Despite optimism about the renovation of Spokane, Washington’s historic Otis Hotel, there are also growing concerns as it has come to light that the building’s owner and the subcontractors that they hired have mishandled asbestos and exposed workers to the risk of malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. In response to earlier revelations, the Washington state Department of Labor and Industries has levied vines totaling almost $140,000 and more charges are being prepared by the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency.
The concerns over mesothelioma began after inspections were conducted in March. Air quality inspectors discovered that despite the fact that debris being collected during the 107-year-old building’s renovation was contaminated with asbestos, workers were handling it improperly. The inspectors acted quickly, issuing an “order of immediate restraint” within days. Construction stopped for three months to allow an investigation to take place, and that process is what led to the issuing of citations for violating state health and safety rules.
The companies that were cited include the building’s owner’s company Has and Boz LLC and Santiago’s Handyman Services. Both are Oregon based and each was fined $24,500 for eight “serious” and three “general violations of worker safety rules and another $45,000 for 16 “serious” violations of state rules regarding the handling and disposal of hazardous materials.
At issue is the concern over mishandling of asbestos, a material that was widely used in construction decades before the material was known to cause cancers like malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer. The lack of precaution and protection provided to the workers puts them at significant risk, and may have sent asbestos fibers into the air in the surrounding community.
Though the building’s owner denies that any workers were put in danger and claims that the issue is that the state’s inspectors were incompetent, it is expected that more fines will be announced shortly. In the meantime, the workers who were exposed to the deadly material will have to spend the rest of their lives in fear of mesothelioma. If you or someone you love has been similarly put at risk by an asbestos company, we can help. Call us today at 1-800-966-2244.