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July 7, 2004

Contractor fined for exposing workers to asbestos

TUMWATER — The Department of Labor & Industries last week fined a Spokane asbestos removal contractor $144,000 for exposing workers to health hazards from asbestos.

Phalon Abatement Services, Inc., was cited for seven “willful” violations of the rules that protect workers from asbestos exposure. The violations occurred in January of this year at a work site in Moses Lake, where the employees were removing asbestos construction materials from a building.

The employer was cited for willful violations because at the time of the inspection, the supervisor claimed no asbestos work was being done while another employee remained out of sight in a boiler room. According to the supervisor, the boiler room was locked and she did not have a key. The inspectors left the worksite and returned minutes later to find the two employees removing asbestos insulation from the boiler room.

“Willful” is cited when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from an existing condition and the department finds the employer knowingly or intentionally violated the rules or knew that a violation was occurring and was plainly indifferent to correcting it.

Asbestos is a widely used mineral-based material that is resistant to fire and corrosives and is linked to significant health hazards such lung diseases and several forms of cancer.

The violations were related to air monitoring and air quality; safe handling and disposal of asbestos products and debris; use of personal protective equipment; and establishment of a decontamination area for employees.

The company has 15 working days to appeal the citation.

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For media information: Elaine Fischer, L&I, 360-902-5413 or nele235@LNI.wa.gov, or visit the L&I News and Media Center at www.lni.wa.gov/News.

Broadcast version

The Department of Labor & Industries last week fined Phalon Abatement Services of Spokane one-hundred-forty-four thousand-dollars for exposing workers to asbestos. The seven willful violations occurred in January of this year while employees were removing asbestos construction materials from a building in Moses Lake. Labor & Industries inspectors were told by the supervisor that no asbestos work was being done but they returned shortly after to find the work in progress. Exposure to asbestos is linked to significant health hazards such as lung disease and cancer. Phalon Abatement Services has fifteen working days to appeal the citation.

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