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Demo crews could be liable for improper asbestos removal

When construction companies are hired to demolish or renovate buildings, a great deal of care must be paid to removing asbestos from such sites. Specifically, it is an beneficial (and accepted practice) to determine the presence of materials containing asbestos fibers, and to wet them before they are removed.

Wetting such materials can help stop the spread of asbestos fibers, which can be circulated and inhaled by workers. Asbestos fibers are known to cause mesothelioma and other respiratory conditions.

A California company, Z-Con Specialty Services was found guilty of violating several laws governing the removal of asbestos, including the California Health and Safety Code, local air pollution act rules, OSHA standards, and the federal Clean Air Act. Essentially, it performed a number of jobs where it removed linoleum floor backing, roofing paper, wallboards and other asbestos-containing materials without washing them down first.

In addition to improper removal, the company was cited for failing to have a competent supervisor on site, failing to conduct a proper asbestos survey, and failing to notify authorities of asbestos abatement activities. It was fined $180,000 and is subject to a permanent injunction that requires strict adherence to asbestos removal rules.

We find this story informative because it is an example of a situation where an employer (as opposed to a manufacturer who created materials containing asbestos) could be held liable not only for code violations, but for future employees’ injuries as well.

If you have questions about demolition or renovation companies that may have violated asbestos removal rules in Ohio, an experienced attorney can help.

Source: Mesothelioma.com, San Jose company hit with large asbestos fine, January 21, 2013

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