Nearly $250K in asbestos-related fines proposed for contractors at Hale Library

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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- The U.S. Dept. of Labor has cited two Kansas City, Missouri-based contractors more than $200,000 for failing to comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration's standards when performing rehabilitation work at Kansas State University's Hale Library.

In response, the federal agency has proposed fining one of the firms, Custom Crushing & Company, $193,596, while the other one, Belfor Propertty Restoration faces a proposed penalty of $39,780.

“Asbestos is a well-known health hazard that can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other life-threatening illnesses,” said OSHA Wichita Area Director Ryan Hodge. “Employers working in the restoration industry are required to remediate asbestos hazards to ensure workers are adequately protected.”

According to the Labor Dept., Custom Crushing & Company was cited 23 times for serious health violations. Those violations included:

  • Exposing employees to asbestos,
  • Failing to provide respiratory protection,
  • Failing to provide personal protective clothing,
  • Failing to provide develop a written hazard communication program,
  • Failing to provide train workers on asbestos hazards,
  • Failing to provide properly dispose of material and waste containing asbestos, and
  • Failing to conduct medical surveillance for employees exposed to health hazards.

Belfor had three serious violations after OSHA inspectors determined the asbestos abatement did not comply with the agency's standards. They also found the company did not tell the building's owners nor other employees exactly where the asbestos-containing material was and how much they found.

Both companies now have 15 business days to either comply with the penalties, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings with the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, the Dept. of Labor explained.

Almost exactly one year ago, a large fire tore through the K-State library, causing extensive smoke and water damage. In June, Belfor representative said they’re more than 1.5 million books that were damaged by the smoke and water from the fire. University officials have made plans to renovate the building.