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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

OSHA News Release: [03/14/2012]
Contact Name: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone Number: (617) 565-2075
Release Number: 12-0430-NEW/

US Labor Department's OSHA cites Avon, NY, employer for exposing workers to asbestos hazards at Rochester work site

John K. and Associates faces more than $71,000 in fines for failing to provide safeguards

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited an Avon-based contractor with 17 serious health violations carrying proposed fines of $71,400 for exposing workers to asbestos hazards at a Rochester work site. An inspection by OSHA's Buffalo Area Office found employees of John K. and Associates Inc. removing insulation containing asbestos from a vacant warehouse located at 920 Exchange St. and disposing of it in a dumpster at that location.

OSHA determined that the employer failed to identify and determine the level of asbestos exposure at the start of the job, did not establish a regulated area in which to perform the asbestos work, and did not provide the workers with asbestos training, respirators and protective gear. In addition, asbestos debris was improperly cleaned up and disposed of, and the workers were not supervised by a competent person. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"Repair, renovation and demolition operations often generate airborne asbestos, a mineral fiber that can cause chronic lung disease or cancer. Basic procedures and safeguards to protect these workers against asbestos exposure were absent from this job," said Arthur Dube, OSHA's area director for western New York. "No employer has the right to risk the health and well-being of workers in this way. Debris may be disposable, but workers are not."

"One means of minimizing hazards such as these is for employers to establish and maintain an illness and injury prevention program in which they work with their employees to identify and eliminate hazards," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

Detailed information on asbestos hazards and safeguards is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/asbestos/.

John K. and Associates Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Buffalo office at 716-551-3053.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.