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Aug. 6, 1998

Vancouver-area contractor fined $95,000 for exposing workers to asbestos

TUMWATER - The Department of Labor & Industries has cited a Vancouver-area contractor and assessed $95,000 in penalties for willful violations of safety and health regulations that protect workers from the health hazard of asbestos exposure.

Gerry Hobson General Contracting, 12604 NE 172nd Ave., Brush Prairie, WA, was cited for seven violations of worker-protection rules during a repair project in a Longview apartment complex last February. The work involved the removal of a water-damaged ceiling that contained asbestos materials.

Asbestos, a widely used mineral-based material that is resistant to heat and corrosives, represents a significant health hazard that has been linked to loss of lung function, lung disease and several cancers, including those of the esophagus, stomach and colon. Exposure to asbestos can cause asbestosis (scarring of the lungs) that lead to disability and death.

Willful violations indicate that the employer knowingly or intentionally violated worker-protection rules, or exhibited plain indifference that a violation was occurring and failed to take corrective action. Specifically, the employer:

  • Failed to ensure that a negative-pressure enclosure was used to limit distribution of the asbestos-containing material. ($15,000 penalty)
  • Failed to provide a decontamination area for workers. ($15,000)
  • Failed to provide air-supplied respirators for workers who were exposed to the asbestos-containing materials. In addition, the employer failed to ensure that workers wore full-body protective clothing when exposed to the asbestos-containing material. ($15,000)
  • Failed to ensure that all asbestos-containing debris was gathered and removed. In addition, the encapsulation of asbestos-containing materials during removal was inadequate. ($15,000)
  • Failed to provide required personal air monitoring. ($15,000)
  • Failed to provide clearance monitoring to ensure that the air was clean enough for re-occupation. ($15,000)
  • Failed to provide air monitoring prior to commencing work ($5,000)

The employer has 15 working days from receipt of the violation notice to appeal.

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