Michaels and OSHA Blast Illinois Construction Firm, Manager

"Kehrer Brothers Construction brought non-English-speaking workers to the U.S. and knowingly exposed them to asbestos," said Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "Kehrer also threatened to fire his employees if they spoke with our investigators. This is outrageous, illegal behavior. We at OSHA will do everything in our power to ensure this employer stops endangering his employees."

OSHA lowered the boom on two Illinois companies, Albers, Ill.-based Kehrer Brothers Construction and a Kehrer-affiliated company, D7 Roofing, on Aug. 10, along with a manager, Joseph Kehrer, by citing Kehrer Brothers and Joseph Kehrer for 40 violations, issuing $1,792,000 in proposed penalties, and placing Kehrer Brothers in the OSHA Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The agency said its investigation of work done by the companies' employees at a former elementary school in Okawville, Ill., found that at least eight workers were exposed to asbestos fibers while they removed floor tiles, insulation, and other materials.

According to OSHA's news release, many of the workers came to the United States to work for Kehrer under the provisions of the H-2B visa program that allows companies to hire foreign workers temporarily.

"Kehrer Brothers Construction brought non-English-speaking workers to the U.S. and knowingly exposed them to asbestos," said Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "Kehrer also threatened to fire his employees if they spoke with our investigators. This is outrageous, illegal behavior. We at OSHA will do everything in our power to ensure this employer stops endangering his employees."

OSHA cited Kehrer and Kehrer Brothers for 16 egregious, nine willful, and six serious violations for failing to warn employees of the hazard, failing to ensure workers used respirators and appropriate work methods, and failing to train them about the hazards of working around asbestos.

OSHA cited D7 Roofing for one serious violation and two willful violations for not training the workers or informing them about the presence of asbestos-containing material and also failing to conduct inspections as required by law. Proposed penalties total $147,000.

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