OSHA Alleges 45 Willful Violations by NY Real Estate Developer, Issues $2.3M in Fines
Olivet Management LLC of Wingdale, N.Y., is cited for knowingly exposing workers to asbestos and lead during renovation work of the former Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center.
OSHA announced it has commenced an enforcement case against Olivet Management LLC, a Wingdale, N.Y.-based real estate development and management company that owns the former Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center in the Wingdale section of Dover Plains, N.Y. With a total of 45 willful violations involved, the company faces a total of $2,359,000 in proposed fines for allegedly exposing its own employees and employees of 13 contractors to asbestos and lead hazards during cleanup operations in preparation for a tour of the site by potential investors.
"Olivet knew that asbestos and lead were present at this site, yet the company chose to ignore its responsibility to protect its own workers and contractors," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "The intolerable choice this company made put not only workers, but also their families, in danger."
OSHA's Albany Area Office began an inspection Oct. 23, 2013, after receiving a complaint. It found Olivet employees and contractors "were exposed to asbestos and lead while performing renovation and cleanup activities. The work, which was directed and overseen by Olivet supervisors, included removing: asbestos- and lead-contaminated debris; asbestos-containing floor tiles and insulation; and lead-containing paint from walls, windows, door frames and other painted surfaces," according to OSHA. The agency reported Olivet did not inform employees or the contractors about the presence of asbestos and lead, despite knowing that both hazards existed, and provided no training about them, did not monitor workers' exposure levels, did not provide appropriate respiratory protection, and did not post notices, warning signs, or labels to alert workers and contractors to the presence of asbestos and lead.
Olivet Management LLC issued this statement in response to OSHA's news release: "Olivet has been working together and cooperating with OSHA and other agencies to ensure that our employees work in a safe and healthful workplace. We are reviewing the notice and will address the citations in a timely manner. We have the same goals as OSHA—to insure that once construction and renovation work is commenced, all workers will be fully protected against any unsafe and unhealthful working conditions. Furthermore, being new to New York State, we are grateful for the direction we have been given by both state and federal agencies in helping us move forward with our long term commitment to bring economic development, stability and vibrancy and new jobs to the area in the most effective and efficient manner as possible. We look forward to working with all affected parties to revitalize these many acres of property which have been unused and remain in their original condition when the State of New York closed all state hospitals facilities twenty years ago.
"We will be taking a close look at the extensive citations and penalties that OSHA has issued in the hope of working with the agency to resolve them. Finally, we look forward to moving forward on a project that we believe will help restore economic energy to the greater Harlem Valley region and to a project we at Olivet Management are committed to for the long term."