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Improper asbestos removal of popcorn ceiling endangers workers

OnTrack, the addiction recovery organization, has been fined nearly $20,000 for improperly exposing workers to asbestos. According to the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division, OnTrack had workers scrape acoustic ceilings (more commonly known as popcorn ceilings) without proper equipment or protective gear.

Acoustic ceilings built prior to the late 1980s are in danger of containing asbestos. Left alone, it doesn’t pose a danger. However, when remodeling, including scraping the ceilings, it is vital that certified asbestos removal experts undertake the work. Proper removal includes full-body protective gear.

A spokesperson for the organization said the improper asbestos removal was a mistake, and that the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality was notified soon after asbestos was discovered on the property being renovated.

Workers still being exposed to asbestos

We regularly follow instances of asbestos exposure on the blog. This is just the latest example of workers being asked to remove asbestos without following proper procedures under the law.

Whether it involves a mistake, a lack of knowledge or a desire to save money during remodeling, it is never appropriate for workers to be exposed to asbestos.

In this case, a worker for Ontrack notified supervisors of the possibility of asbestos being present in the ceiling. The worker said his employers where dismissive of his fears. The worker notified OSHA, which inspected the properties and ultimately levied the fines. As feared, the popcorn ceiling did contain chrysotile asbestos, the deadly carcinogen.

The worker is currently seeking whistleblower protection.

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