Cicero, Ill.-based AMD Industries Inc. faces more than $1.2 million in proposed OSHA fines after allegedly exposing unprotected and untrained workers to asbestos.
According to OSHA, five AMD Industries employees were required to conduct asbestos removal without proper protection or training. Following an OSHA inspection in December 2010, in response to a referral from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the agency issued the company with 19 willful and eight serious health citations.
“Asbestos exposure can be deadly,” said OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels. “AMD Industries knew it was assigning workers to asbestos removal work and failed to take the most basic safety precautions. This employer did not provide protective respirators or even warn the workers of the risk to their health from removing the material.”
OSHA investigators found that AMD Industries had commissioned a safety audit of its Cicero facility in 2002, which uncovered the presence of asbestos-containing materials on boilers, heating units and connected piping. In November 2010, the company began an asbestos removal project using in-house and untrained workers. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency became aware of the work and asked the Illinois Attorney General’s Office to proceed with an enforcement action for the improper removal, handling and disposal of asbestos-containing material. The company entered into an agreed order to implement a program to remediate the asbestos contamination. Workers allegedly were exposed to materials containing 20-50 percent asbestos.
OSHA issued 15 willful citations, with proposed penalties of $945,000, for the employer’s failures to provide the employees engaged in the hazardous work with the proper training, and protective clothing and equipment. Proper protective clothing is required to make sure employees do not carry asbestos fibers outside of the facility and into their cars and homes.
Additionally, AMD Industries was fined $252,000 for four willful violations for the following alleged failures: to identify or inform workers of the location and quantity of asbestos; to monitor airborne concentrations of asbestos; to use high-efficiency particulate air vacuums and wet methods to control the dust; and to promptly and properly dispose of asbestos-contaminated waste.
OSHA also issued eight serious citations, with proposed fines of $50,400, for failing to implement a respirator protection program; failing to use engineering controls and work practices for Class I asbestos work; not conducting asbestos work in regulated areas; and failing to provide hygiene facilities for workers removing the dangerous material.
This investigation falls under the requirements of OSHA’s Severe Violators Enforcement Program. AMD Industries has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.