OSHA Fines Three Firms for Exposing Residents and Workers to Asbestos at a Residential Care Facility in Missouri

According to a federal workplace report on safety inspection, three companies exposed residents and workers at a Missouri residential nursing facility to asbestos hazards during a flooring replacement project. The three companies also failed to ensure safe asbestos removal during the project. Early this year, OSHA began an inspection in the residential nursing facility based on a referral from the Missouri Department of Natural resources. More than 30 days after the flooring work began, OSHA evacuated the nursing facility’s residents.

According to OSHA, three companies, namely; SRZ OP Bentonview, SRZ Mgmt Holdings, and Eastern Coast Management Inc., failed to conduct their work professionally and safely in various ways. According to OSHA, these three companies did not check for the signs of the dangerous substance, asbestos, and neither did they build barriers to contain the site. Also, the three companies in question failed to provide PPE and respiratory equipment to workers to prevent asbestos exposure. OSHA further claims that workers from the three companies did not complete an asbestos assessment to determine the presence of asbestos even after removing approximately 10,000 square feet of floor tiles containing asbestos.

According to samples collected at three different locations in the nursing facility, there was a huge asbestos concentration in the facility. Approximately 45% to 51% of the samples contained chrysotile asbestos. White or chrysotile asbestos is the most commonly encountered form of asbestos in the U.S.

After finishing the inspection, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited SRZ OP Bentonview, SRZ Mgmt Holdings, and Eastern Coast Management Inc., for;

  • Failing to implement a respiratory protection program
  • Exposing employees to asbestos dangers, and,
  • Failing to inform workers of the potential presence of the toxic substance

Other penalties and violations were proposed against each of the companies. SRZ Mgmt Holdings LLC faces proposed penalties of more than $90,000 for ten serious violations. According to investigators, SRZ Mgmt Holdings LLC’s regional director of operations removed flooring and used removal equipment and scrapers to keep the flooring replacement project moving in the lead contractor’s absence. SRZ Mgmt Holding LLC assigns managers to the nursing facility. Eastern Coast Management Inc. faces proposed penalties of $105,127 for eleven serious violations, and SRZ OP Bentonview LLC faces over $38,000 in proposed fines for four serious violations.

In a statement in Kansas City, Missouri, OSHA Area Director Karena Lorek talked briefly about the dangers of the human carcinogen known as asbestos. The OSHA’s Area Director mentioned how asbestos is a toxic substance, which, when disturbed, releases fibers into the air, which can cause irreversible lung damage. According to Karena Lorek, employers need to test building materials before removal and ensure necessary precautions are taken to prevent asbestos exposure.

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