On December 21st, 2016, the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued citations related to asbestos exposure to Wisconsin healthcare provider, The Monroe Clinic Inc., for multiple violations. These citations included 1 willful and 11 serious violations. These citations came, following a June 2016 OSHA inspection of the Monroe, Wisc. Facility. For these citations, the proposed penalty is, $261,890.
The bulk of violations issued to The Monroe Clinic pertain to a failure to properly address the issue of asbestos exposure in the workplace. According to the agency investigation, The Monroe Clinic had identified that, in 2008, asbestos had been disturbed in the Monroe facility, while conducting maintenance tasks, repairs, and installation and removal of materials on the boiler, in crawl spaces, and near ceiling tiles. Despite having become aware of the potential asbestos exposure, no effort was made to inform employees of the asbestos. Furthermore, the agency determined that The Monroe Clinic failed to provide employees with protective equipment.
OSHA determined that the following violations existed, with most relating to asbestos exposure:
- Failure to provide basic personal protective equipment
- Failure to create a decontamination area for employees
- Failure to implement appointed work-methods to minimize asbestos exposure
- Failure to provide respiratory protection
- Failure to conduct exposure assessments
- Failure to provide medical surveillance to monitor potential exposure
- Failure to post asbestos-hazard signage on the boiler room and in other areas
- Failure to inform workers on the location and use of hazardous chemicals
OSHA Madison area director, Ann Grevenkamp, said, “Monroe Clinic knew its employees were working amid materials known to contain asbestos and failed to inform them of the location of hazards and to protect them from exposure to a known carcinogen that can cause life-long health issues and possibly death. It is imperative that employers take all known precautions to protect workers from potential exposure to any material that may contain asbestos.”
Asbestos exposure is a dangerous health issue. It is important for companies to have an active training and education program to deal with this deadly environmental issue. One resource that safety leaders can utilize to maintain HAZWOPER compliance is an OSHA-approved online training-course.