Friday, August 21, 2015

Health and Safety Violations Result in Nearly $2 Million Fine

Kehrer Bros. and affiliates exposed workers to asbestos

Asbestos removal is crucial, but risky.
Health and safety violations endanger workers and lead to massive fines.
After endangering their workers, a construction group was fined nearly two million dollars this week – the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) discovered that supervisors had been knowingly endangering their workers by exposing them to asbestos. Kehrer Brothers Construction was fined $1.792 million, while their affiliate D7 Roofing was fined an additional $147,000. The companies’ wallets and their reputations suffered a blow as OSHA chief David Michaels condemned their work as “outrageous, illegal behavior.”

Asbestos exposure is widely recognized as dangerous to children and adults alike; it affects the lungs of those exposed and can cause a range of cancers. OSHA enforces regulations to ensure that anyone working near asbestos protects themselves and others; basic adjustments to a worksite can dramatically reduce the risks associated with exposure. Kehrer Brothers, however, flouted these regulations by bringing untrained, unknowing workers to renovate a former school where asbestos were present. Despite knowing the risks, the company gave workers no special instruction, made no accommodations for their breathing, and failed to even provide basic safety equipment like hard hats or eyewear.

The group hired workers under the H2B visa program, which lets companies hire foreign employees. Vulnerable newcomers – many of whom did not speak English – were intimidated and threatened; Michaels relates how “Kehrer also threatened to fire his employees if they spoke with our investigators.” The company has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

Kehrer Bros. was fined $70,000 per untrained employee; trainings cost as little as $89 per person. Quality asbestos removal is crucial, and it’s in urgent demand – get certified to safely work with asbestos and protect your company from fines.