Two Albuquerque, New Mexico construction companies have been fined a combined total of more than $150,000 for asbestos violations, reports the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
In a press release outlined in the New Mexico Business Weekly, the agency announced that Maloy Construction Inc., a general contractor, and Deerfield Corp., a plumbing and construction company, had a total of 17 violations of asbestos exposure at a Mescalero, N.M., hospital construction site.
OSHA was alerted to the problem early in the summer, when employees informed the organization that asbestos removal was being done at the site without benefit of proper protection. OSHA’s El Paso office subsequently began an inspection, which resulted in the violations.
“The OSHA inspection revealed that the two companies failed to take appropriate action to protect their employees,” said Rich Tapio, OSHA’s area director in Lubbock, Texas. “Employers must remain committed to keeping the workplace safe and healthful at all times.”
OSHA proposed a $75,600 fine for Maloy Construction for five violations and it proposed an $81,900 fine for Deerfield Corp. for 12 violations.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration report, the violations include: 1) failure to regulate an asbestos area, 2) failure to assess initial exposure to asbestos, 3) failure to provide protective equipment, 4) failure to launder contaminated clothing, and 5) failure to train employees in asbestos removal. The companies have 15 days to reply to the citations.
Parliamentary members who belong to Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) are calling on the federal government to shut down the country’s controversial asbestos business and “scrap horrifying regulations” that allow the use of the cancer-causing mineral in children’s toys and other products, reports the Globe and Mail.
According to a recent article, MPs Pat Martin and Libby Davies shared with other members of parliament test results of a recent study by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization that points to the use of the toxic material in children’s toys and widely-used household items. One toy in particular – the CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit – has been especially popular in Canada during this holiday season.
“Asbestos is the greatest industrial killer the world has ever known and you would have to be insane to put asbestos in children’s toys,” Mr. Martin said. “It would be like putting razor blades in Halloween apples. So what does that say about a government that would allow it?”
Mr. Martin also stressed that new regulations under Canada’s Hazardous Materials Act allow asbestos-laden products “used by a child in education or play.”
The party has requested that Health Minister Tony Clement order the testing of toys to determine whether they contain asbestos. MP Martin also requested that the government, primarily run by the Tory party, repeal the current legislation and ban asbestos from all products in Canada.
The Conservative government has fallen prey to “aggressive industry lobbyists” and is keeping its head in the sand about the dangers of asbestos, the NDP charged.
Japan, Australia, South Africa and all countries of the European Union have banned asbestos, Ms. Davies pointed out.
“There is no safe level of asbestos,” she said. “There’s no question that it’s a carcinogen.
“We are exporting human misery at a staggering rate. Canada should be joining the international community to stop the production of asbestos and its export.”
Canada current exports about 200,000 tons of asbestos annually. Most of it goes to third world countries.
Earlier this week, children that attend a Cleveland elementary school were allowed back into the school building, even after a weekend fire in the basement caused concern about the building’s condition. Later in the week, school board officials reversed their decision to keep the school open, closing it for fear that the students were possibly being exposed to asbestos.
At noon on Thursday, the superintendent of schools, in conjunction with officials from the state Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ohio Health Department decided that allowing the students to attend classes at the Nathaniel Hawthorne Elementary School was just too risky.
According to a news story on WKYC, Cleveland’s NBC affiliate, an EPA observer who was canvassing the school early Thursday morning discovered 150 feet of exposed and damaged asbestos covering piping in the basement. Subsequent air tests showed that asbestos particles in the air were at three times the acceptable level.
Original air quality tests done by a contractor to measure general contamination in the air came back at safe levels, but EPA officials believe that the first round of tests were inadequate to properly measure airborne asbestos fibers. Schools CEO Dr. Eugene Sanders disclosed the decision to close after a news conference on another subject.
“We felt for precautionary reasons we would make the decision to close the building. Another assessment has been done and the assessment is slightly higher than the recommended level,” said Sanders.
He added that more testing would be done over the weekend and that if all tests came back at a safe level, the school would re-open on Monday.
In the meantime, some teachers wore masks to school while it was open and parents were upset that their children were allowed to attend school while the environment was unsafe.
“School should have been cancelled when the fire happened. They should never have been open,” said Joe Bonelli, whose two daughters are students at Hawthorne.