Paterson, NJ – The state Department of Labor (DoL) has found that Paterson City officials committed thirteen serious violations concerning employee health when a number of municipal employees were exposed to dangerous asbestos fibers at the time of a renovation project carried out in the office last year.
The Department of Labor inspection report that was issued March 2013 says the Paterson City did not provide adequate oversight, monitoring, training and safety devices to the workers who peeled tiles containing asbestos from the 2nd floor offices located at 133 Ellison St.
According to the report, for each of its violation, the city is facing a fine of approximately $4500 per day with effect from 18th April if the city does not abide by the safety requirements of the state. The state wouldn’t disclose if any of the fines have been imposed by this time as the case still remains open.
Following the Asbestos investigation, the state Department of Labor carried out 5 extra safety checks at the public work facilities of the city and discovered thirty serious violations. The violations likely carry fines between $2400 and $3600, the DoL documents indicate. However, these violations do not involve asbestos.
Asbestos worries prompted the health department of the city to halt the renovation project in 2012 December. According to officials, the area has been closed since then. Now the city is in an attempt to hire a private firm for removing the dangerous pollutants from its offices.
The Sheriff’s Department of Passaic County is also carrying out a probe into the situation as Paterson purportedly used SLAP (Sheriff’s Labour Assistance Program) inmates for handling asbestos – a known cancer-causing material that is still present in old buildings.
Michael Jackson, the president of the public works department employees’ union, said he does not think state would impose any penalties as the city has already stopped the renovation project that involves asbestos material.
“I am happy that story is out there and now we are needless to bother about it occurring once again,” Jackson said.
Jeffrey Jones, the City Mayor, said he hasn’t yet seen the report issued by the state inspectors. He said that the city requires to implement training program for its employees whoever work in old structures where asbestos and lead are a common presence.
“We really do not like to put anybody at risk,” Jones said.