Chicago-Area Companies Cited for Worker Exposure to Asbestos
Six different companies were renovating Chute Middle School’s cafeteria in Evanston, IL during the summer break, when OSHA received a complaint about asbestos and silica on the site. After an inspection of the school, OSHA determined that workers were exposed to asbestos, lead, and electrical hazards, culminating in a total of $132,040 in penalties to the six companies that were involved.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber that was commonly used in electrical and building insulation because of its resistance to fire, heat, electrical and chemical damage. The mineral fiber had gained substantial popularity due to its affordability before the adverse health effects were discovered. Airborne asbestos fibers are known to cause inflammation and scarring of the lungs, loss of lung function, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
The six companies involved in the renovation were charged with failures to conduct air sampling and initial exposure assessment for asbestos, failure to ensure exposure monitoring and supervised asbestos removal, failure to take precautions against cutting pipes containing asbestos, exposing workers to lead-based paint, and inadequate disposal of debris from asbestos removal operations.