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May 20, 2024
OSHA cites subcontractor for asbestos exposures in hospital demolition

Chicago-area subcontractor K.L.F. Enterprises faces $392,002 in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines for exposing its employees and others to asbestos during the structural demolition of a Waukegan, Illinois, hospital, the agency announced May 15.

Agency investigators observed K.L.F. employees not wearing protective equipment amid piles of debris and steel I-beams during the structural demolition of the eight-story former Lakes Behavioral Health hospital. Investigators found that K.L.F. continued demolition activities—disturbing and removing asbestos used to fireproof the building’s interior—despite recognizing that the debris piles outside were likely asbestos-laden. The company didn’t stop work or require employees to take appropriate precautions or use established control measures to protect themselves from asbestos exposure.

“K.L.F. Enterprises’ decision not to stop work immediately or ensure appropriate control measures were followed when asbestos was clearly visible exposed these employees to a highly carcinogenic material with the potential for permanent, negative long-term health outcomes,” Sukhvir Kaur, OSHA’s Chicago North area director, said in an agency statement.

The agency also cited general contractor Reed Illinois Construction for not ensuring K.L.F. Enterprises, its subcontractor, complied with federal safety and health standards for asbestos, as well as for failing to inspect the site frequently and regularly for safety hazards. The agency proposed penalties totaling $32,262. 

OSHA cited V Covington LLC with a serious violation for the owner’s failure to ensure K.L.F. Enterprises and another subcontractor, Alliance Environmental Control Inc., complied with the federal asbestos standard, proposing a penalty of $16,131.

The agency cited Alliance Environmental Control of Lansing, Illinois, with a serious violation for creating asbestos hazards by not removing asbestos, including the fireproofing insulation. The employer faces a proposed OSHA penalty of $6,452.

Massachusetts roofer cited in fatal fall

Watertown, Massachusetts, roofing contractor OJR Construction Inc. faces $88,721 in OSHA penalties after an employee suffered fatal injuries from a 27-foot (ft) fall while trying to carry materials and climb a ladder jack scaffold, the agency announced May 13.

OSHA previously cited OJR Construction in March 2017 and September 2019 for failing to comply with the agency’s fall protection standards. OSHA announced last fall that its construction industry fall protection standard has been its most frequently cited standard for 13 straight years.

Agency inspectors found that OJR Construction willfully exposed employees to fall hazards by not providing a guardrail, a safety net, or personal fall arrest systems. The employer also failed to have a fall protection training program instructing employees in recognizing and addressing fall hazards.

OSHA determined that the employer didn’t comply with requirements for:

  • Installing guardrails on scaffolds or determining the tipping weight of scaffold planks that extended more than 18 inches over a supporting surface, exposing employees to falls over 15 ft;
  • Guaranteeing ladder side rails extended at least 3 ft above the upper landing surface being accessed;
  • Ensuring the area below the scaffold and ladders in the path of vehicular traffic were barricaded to prevent fall and struck-by hazards;
  • Having a competent person on-site to ensure the use of fall protection; 
  • Preventing debris from accumulating at the bottom of ladders to provide safe access to the worksite; and
  • Providing eye protection for employees using nail guns and ensuring they use them.

“Two previous OSHA inspections made it clear to OJR Construction what protections had to be in place to protect employees from potentially debilitating or deadly falls, but the company chose to ignore its responsibilities,” James Mulligan, OSHA’s Braintree, Massachusetts, area office director, said in a statement.

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