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Washington fines home-flippers for exposing workers to asbestos

Asbestos makes headlines when it involves large settlements or household name brands. But the dangerous impact of asbestos exposure remains prevalent in everyday work environments. A pair of business owners found out that recklessly endangering workers can still lead to significant consequences, as they are facing significant fines and sanctions for putting people in harm’s way.

According to reports, the Washington Department of Labor & Industries has leveled fines of nearly $800,000 against James Thorpe, Chris Walters and a pair of corporations for 11 counts of willful violations of improper and unsafe asbestos abatement and handling. Following four investigations, the Washington Department of Labor has cited the two businessmen in conjunction with asbestos mismanagement that placed workers at risk during a home-flipping renovation site in Seattle.

Too many companies are engaged in hazardous asbestos abatement

The DOL investigated only after a neighbor filed a complaint that workers were improperly removing asbestos tiles from the exterior of the structure. After claiming he was the property owner, Walters reportedly assured neighbors that proper asbestos abatement guidelines would be followed. Fortunately, neighbors took video evidence of improper asbestos removal and filed a complaint.

In what has become a trend when asbestos violations are investigated, Walters and Thorpe denied responsibility for endangering workers and neighbors. The DOL’s citation includes fines for uncertified asbestos removal workers, lack of certified supervision, failure to conduct an adequate asbestos survey, and not providing workers with protective equipment, among others.

Asbestos is a high-risk cancer-causing agent that remains hidden in many building materials and products. Workplace exposure can lead to fatal lung cancer and mesothelioma.

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