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March 7, 2000

Asbestos exposure: Worker-safety violations cited at Sand Point project

TUMWATER - The Department of Labor & Industries has fined two contractors and the city of Seattle for exposing workers to asbestos during a utility upgrade project at the former Sand Point Naval Air Station site on Lake Washington.

Total penalties exceeded $60,000 for willful and serious violations in connection with the removal of underground asbestos-wrapped steam pipes on the site. The violations and penalties have been appealed by the two contractors.

Mid Mountain Contractors of Kirkland, was cited for 12 violations with penalties of $59,200.

Entranco of Seattle was cited for two violations and fined $3,060.

The City of Seattle was assessed a $1,700 penalty for a single serious violation related to asbestos training. The appeal period has expired.

Asbestos, a widely used mineral-based material that is resistant to heat and corrosives, represents a significant health hazard for humans. When inhaled, asbestos fibers can cause serious health problems that can lead to disability and death. Asbestos has been linked to lung cancer, asbestosis (scarring of the lungs) and mesothemelioma (a cancer of the lining of the chest or abdominal cavity).

According to the violation report, Mid Mountain was cited for three willful, eight serious and a single general violation. Willful violations indicate that the employer knowingly or intentionally violated worker-protection rules, or exhibited plain indifference that a violation was occurring and failed to take corrective action. Specifically the employer:

  • Willfully failed to obtain asbestos contractor certification for an asbestos-abatement project prior to beginning work. ($11,900 penalty)
  • Willfully failed to ensure that asbestos removal or encapsulation work was performed by a certified asbestos worker under the direct supervision of a certified asbestos supervisor. ($11,900)
  • Willfully failed to use proper engineering controls or work practices to prevent employee exposure while asbestos insulation was removed from pipe. ($21,000)

The company also was cited for eight serious violations for:

  • Failing to establish a decontamination area for employees, adjacent to and connected to regulated work area. ($1,800)
  • Failing to establish and demarcate a regulated area that minimized the number of workers within and protected workers outside from exposure to airborne asbestos during the abatement. ($1,800)
  • Failing to monitor the workplace for airborne concentrations of asbestos as required by law. ($1,800)
  • Failing to medically monitor workers exposed to airborne concentrations of asbestos in excess of permissible levels. ($1,800)
  • Failing to inform other employers on site that asbestos abatement was taking place and the measures that they must take to prevent their workers from being exposed. ($1,800)
  • Failing to provide a two-hour asbestos awareness training as required by law. ($1,800)
  • Failing to clean up all spills and sudden releases of asbestos-containing materials in a timely manner as required. ($1,800)
  • Failing to develop and implement a written accident prevention plan that addressed asbestos hazards and safe work practices, including emergency actions to take in the event of an accidental exposure. ($1,800)

Mid Mountain also was cited a general violation for failing to notify L&I of the project as required prior to commencement of the project. No penalty.

Mid Mountain's appeal will be forwarded to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals.

Entranco of Kirkland was the City of Seattle's project superintendent who provided overall construction management and monitored day-to-day operation of the project for the City of Seattle, including safety compliance on site. The project superintendent was to assure that the project was managed in accordance with state and federal regulations. Entranco was cited for two serious violations and fined a total of $3,060, for its responsibility related to the violations cited above. Labor & Industries has reassumed jurisdiction and will hear an appeal internally.

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