Georgia – The United States Labor Department’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed penalties of in excess of $63000 against a demolition firm located in Augusta for alleged breaches linked to asbestos abatement during a demolition project at a Grovetown (GA) school building.
According to a Augusta Chronicle report, OSHA cited Augusta, GA-based Thompson Building & Wrecking Company for allegedly allowing its employees to be exposed to asbestos fibres, failing to isolate areas from which dangerous asbestos material was being eliminated, and failing to perform monitoring of airborne asbestos fibres.
For the 1st, 3-part violation, Thompson Building & Wrecking Company was issued a fine of $14700 by the federal agency.
A 2nd alleged breach netted Thompson Building a proposed fine of $49000 for intentionally failing to make sure that materials containing asbestos were adequately handled for minimizing employee exposure to the cancer-causing substance, the citation shows.
Hiram Thompson, the owner of Thompson Building, said the company received the federal citations because of the lack of knowledge of an inspector about removal of asbestos. Thompson said his company has refused a recent offer by OSHA to reduce the penalty. He says the company wants to have the fines dismissed.
Thompson said his company has been doing building operations for more than 50 years. He said it was the first citation ever received by the company in its entire history. Thompson said all the company employees are well trained and they always work within the asbestos abatement specifications.
The work at issue was carried out in last July on the vacant Grovetown School building, which was torn down by Columbia County Board for making way for a new school building. The building was 75 years old.
Presence of asbestos in a building which is 75 years old is not a surprise. Almost all building constructed prior to the 1980s contain asbestos. Before the 1980s, asbestos was not a restricted or regulated material because the hazards associated with the material were not completely known then. Once these hazards – such as the ability of asbestos to cause terminal diseases like asbestosis and cancer – became known to the public, asbestos became a highly regulated substance. All companies are supposed to follow federal and state regulations concerning asbestos removal while demolishing or renovating a building containing the dangerous mineral. Violation of these regulations could result in hefty penalties.