Lack of Respiratory Protection, Asbestos Hazards Lead to Firm's $56K Fine

An inspection by OSHA's Buffalo Area Office found that employees removing asbestos and asbestos-containing materials from a former warehouse were working in ripped and torn protective suits and were not wearing respiratory protection.

OSHA has cited Aria Contracting Corp., an Orchard Park, N.Y., asbestos removal contractor, for eight alleged serious violations of workplace safety standards at a Buffalo, N.Y., worksite. An inspection by OSHA's Buffalo Area Office found that Aria Contracting employees removing asbestos and asbestos-containing materials from a former warehouse were working in ripped and torn protective suits and were not wearing respiratory protection.

OSHA also found the employees had not been adequately trained on asbestos hazards, the employer had not conducted an initial exposure monitoring to accurately determine the airborne concentrations of asbestos to which the workers were exposed, barriers had not been placed over all openings to the area where the work was being performed, and a competent person had not ensured all proper safeguards were followed.

In addition to the asbestos hazards, an employee was exposed to a 30-foot fall while climbing from the elevated basket of a scissors lift into an opening on the building's third floor. Finally, the employer failed to make all required records available to OSHA for review.

"Inhalation of asbestos fibers by workers may lead to lung disease and other disorders," said Arthur Dube, OSHA's area director in Buffalo. "That is why it is essential effective protective measures, including proper protective gear and adequate and effective employee training, be in place and in use whenever necessary."

As a result of its findings, OSHA has proposed a total of $56,000 in fines against Aria Contracting for these hazards.

An attorney representing Aria said that company president James Jerge denied any violations occurred at the warehouse project, and that he will meet with OSHA officials next week before it officially contests the findings.

"A key means of preventing hazards such as these if for employers to establish and maintain effective health and safety programs in which they work with their employees to proactively identify and eliminate hazards before those can affect workers," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

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