Texas renovators fined for exposing workers to asbestos

4 Dec 2015 by under Legal, News

Asbestos danger sign 300x222 Texas renovators fined for exposing workers to asbestosThree Austin, -based commercial real estate renovators face paying a total of $112,000 in fines for exposing their workers to asbestos at a residential construction worksite in , federal safety regulators said.

The companies – FBZ Broadway LP, One Eighty Construction Inc., and Roscoe Properties Inc., all owned by Jason Berkowitz, were cited by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) last month for failing to protect workers from asbestos exposure.

According to the agency, FBZ and Roscoe were each cited for one willful violation for failing to determine the location and quantity of asbestos at the worksite before putting its employees to work — a violation for which OSHA cited FBZ in April. OSHA proposed a $14,000 penalty against FBZ and a $63,000 fine against Roscoe, according to the citations.

OSHA also cited One Eighty for one willful violation for failing to ensure that workers followed asbestos removal practices and issued a $35,000 fine.

According to OSHA, a willful violation is “a violation in which the employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement (purposeful disregard) or acted with plain indifference to employee safety.”

Exposure to asbestos, a family of naturally occurring fibrous silicate minerals, is the primary cause of mesothelioma cancer. Mesothelioma is extremely rare disease generally affecting the lining of the lungs, and in some cases the abdominal cavity or heart. The cancer can remain latent in those affected for 30 to 40 years before symptoms appear.

Most manufacturers stopped using asbestos by 1989, but it is still added to certain products even today, despite the known dangers. The highest risk of asbestos exposure for most people comes from demolition and construction work, where asbestos fibers in older materials, such as insulation, floor tiles, roofing, soundproofing, and patching compounds, can become airborne and inhaled.

“This commercial building renovator is responsible for protecting workers from asbestos hazards and failed to do so despite previous citations for asbestos exposure,” Alejandro Porter, OSHA’s area director in San Antonio, said in a statement. “There is simply no excuse for continuing to expose workers to this danger. Exposure to asbestos can lead to lung disease and cancer years after initial exposure.”

Source: U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration

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