Because of its once prevalent use in all manners of building, it is not always easy to know beforehand when a construction or worksite is plagued with the toxic substance known as asbestos. However, once Ohio employers are made aware, all necessary efforts should be taken to protect workers who will be in the vicinity. A shipyard that failed to do so was recently hit with a proposed penalty of nearly $1.4 million after many of its workers were unjustly subjected to asbestos exposure.
Fraser Shipyards was initially investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for allegedly dangerous levels of lead. Workers who were tasked with retrofitting the engine room of a ship were determined to have levels of lead that exceeded 20 times the safe exposure limit. In addition to the dangerous lead levels, investigators also found high levels of heavy metals and asbestos from which workers were not protected.
The shipyard was hit with a total of 19 health violations, 14 of which were considered to be willfully egregious for overexposing its workers to dangerous levels of lead. The other five violations were for failing to monitor the exposed workers and for not providing adequate training concerning the hazards of asbestos and lead. Investigators from OSHA claim that Fraser purposely ignored regulations and put workers at risk for permanent health problems.
Asbestos exposure is linked to a number of devastating diseases, including mesothelioma, a cancer that is virtually always fatal. Nothing can ever undo the harm imposed by negligent employers, but this does not mean that victims are powerless. The Ohio civil courts make it possible for victims to achieve compensation regarding their damages, including long-term pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical bills.
Source: wdio.com, "Fraser Shipyards Faces Nearly $1.4 Million in OSHA Penalties", Aug. 1, 2016