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Asbestos violations lead to $1.2 million fine for Illinois firm

An Illinois company has been fined over $1.2 million by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration for its alleged violations of OSHA asbestos regulations. According to the citations, OSHA opened a Severe Violators Enforcement Program case against AMD Industries Inc. after the agency found that the company was disposing of asbestos products and materials without making the necessary efforts to protect its employees or the general public.

According to OSHA officials, it began investigating the Illinois company after the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency informed the Illinois Attorney General's Office of the dangerous asbestos practices. The subsequent OSHA investigation revealed that AMD employees were conducting Class 1 asbestos removal of pipe and thermal system insulation, which were known to contain between 20 and 50 percent chrysotile asbestos.

While removing the asbestos, the citations state, AMD did not utilize control methods such as exhaust ventilation, enclosure, isolation or a respiratory protection system to shield its employees from asbestos exposure. In addition, workers cut asbestos-containing products with a reciprocating saw and collected through dry sweeping, adding further exposure and danger to employees. Finally, the asbestos-containing materials were not disposed of in sealed, impermeable bags or containers, potentially exposing the public to asbestos.

According to OHSA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels, AMD committed flagrant violations of agency regulations while putting its employees in grave danger. "AMD Industries knew it was assigning workers to asbestos removal work and failed to take the most basic safety precautions," he said. "This employer did not provide protective respirators or even warn the workers of the risk to their health from removing the material."

AMD will be fined $1,247,400 for its OSHA violations.

Source: Occupational Health and Safety, "Illinois Firm Fined $1.2 Million in Asbestos Case," 25 May 2011

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