OSHA Fines County Government for Asbestos Violations
Davidson County in North Carolina now has a few less dollars in its pocket, thanks to their disregard as to the handling of asbestos in their county courthouse.
Unfortunately, it amounts to little more than a slap on the wrist, even though the presence of asbestos – and exposure to the material – can impact a life forever.
Fox News 8 in High Point, North Carolina reports that the county government received three citations and a fine of $6,500.00 for its infractions. The citations stated the following:
- The Davidson County Government failed to inform building tenants/employees of the Davidson County Courthouse regarding the presence, location, and quantity of asbestos containing material or presumed asbestos contain material. In addition, the same citation noted that the County had not informed the building occupants of who would be performing work within adjacent areas of the presence, location, and quantity of asbestos.
- Davidson County did not ensure that a competent person conducted an exposure assessment immediately before or at the initiation of the operation to ascertain expected exposures during that operation or workplace. The County performed Class III asbestos work and an exposure assessment was never performed. This could mean that many were exposed to the toxin.
- Davidson County performed Class III asbestos work without using engineering and work practice controls that minimize the exposure to employees performing the asbestos work and to bystander employees. The county failed to use wet methods, local exhaust ventilation, impermeable drop cloths, mini-enclosures, glove bag systems, and or plastic barriers. Again, the failure to follow proven methods that limit or eliminate exposure means that anyone in the courthouse at the time of asbestos-related work could have been exposed.
Clerk of the Superior Court for the county, Brian Shipwash, said he was aware that the county was warned about these asbestos violations in 2015 yet took no positive action.
He released a statement to the press yesterday, affirming his disgust about the situation.
“I am extremely disturbed and am concerned about the potential asbestos exposure to citizens, my employees, and the county workers who have performed countless work projects in this old building over the course of the last 19 years. I was tipped off by a whistle blower on June 22, 2017 and immediately acted, and reported this to OSHA. The more I have researched and learned about the proper handling and treatment of asbestos containing material the more I am appalled at the way the county has failed to protect everyone who enters this building.”
Shipwash noted that he is also concerned about mold and lead paint in the building, which call also affect those working there as well as those who enter the courthouse for other purposes.