Rochester, N.Y. Contractor Cited for Asbestos Exposure by OSHA

Posted on Dec 10, 2007
Based on worker complaints about asbestos exposure and a subsequent U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation, Gordon-Smith Contracting Inc. (GSCI) of Rochester, N.Y. was cited for three "willful" and seven "serious" violations with fines totaling $99,925 last week, according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (RDC).

Workers involved in the case were part of a demolition crew at the old Genesee Hospital in Rochester. The area is to become a mixed-use urban center.

It was determined by OSHA that GSCI employees removed ceiling tiles that were connected to or near asbestos-filled fireproofing without proper safeguards. Wetting agents were not used to control such hazardous exposures, employees had no respirators and asbestos-removal training was never offered, OSHA said.

"This employer knew safeguards were required to protect employees against asbestos exposure yet elected to not provide them," Arthur Dube, OSHA's area director in Buffalo, told the RDC. "Gordon-Smith's failure to do so placed its employees' health at serious risk. Asbestos is a subtle and insidious hazard since its effects can accumulate over time, leading to serious, disabling and fatal diseases of the lungs and other organs,” Dube added.

GSCI informed OSHA it will contend the charges. Keith Gordon-Smith, GSCI president, said the allegations were false and OSHA’s ruling was based on "99 percent hearsay." He added, "We're going to fight those allegations in court,” the RDC reported.

OSHA’s citations will be considered by an administrative law judge Dube said no hearing date is set.

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