Sacramento County, CA – The California Occupational Safety & Health Division has cited the county for 2 state labor code violations. According to the agency, the county failed: to adequately train the employees; to protect the employees from asbestos exposure; and to promptly report the event to OSHA as needed with any dangerous emission of a strictly regulated cancer-causing substance. The County was issued a fine of $2810.
The county has recently filed an appeal with the OSHB (Occupational Safety & Health Board) – a panel of 3 members appointed by the governor. As the appeal is pending, the county was not supposed to comment on the citations against it and the fines issued, according to Chris Andis, the spokeswoman representing the county.
Nearly a year following the incident, quite a few of the total 230 employees who were working at the administrative building have continuous questions regarding whether they had been exposed to hazardous materials such as asbestos.
Sonia Hernandez, the president of the Association of Professional Engineers, County of Sacramento, said that they are attempting to figure out what was actually going on. Hernandez said employees were concerned regarding whether they had been exposed to asbestos.
Hernandez said she contacted OSHA and requested them a meeting for getting questions answered. According to Hernandez, the agency would meet with the employees of the county next month.
Erika Monterroza, a spokeswoman representing OSHA, said the agency would not comment on the risks the county employees would have faced as the appeal is pending.
Asbestos exposure increases the chance of developing cancer and some serious respiratory disorders. The risk of disease typically depends on the intensity and length of one’s exposure to the dangerous mineral. However, even short-term exposure to asbestos can be dangerous and could result in severe diseases.
However, county managers who were responsible for the cleanup operation said the substance on the floor actually didn’t contained asbestos. Anyway, OSHA’s citation refers to the likelihood of asbestos presence in ceiling tiles. Safety inspectors also had told that the county failed to provide the workers with sufficient protective equipment while cleaning up asbestos.
However, county managers then said that protective equipment was not essential as asbestos was not present. However, OSHA didn’t agree with this. The agency found that the county failed to follow proper work practices and cleanup procedures during the work.