MONETT, MO – Three employers at a Missouri residential nursing facility exposed workers and residents to asbestos hazards and failed to ensure safe removal of the known carcinogen during a flooring replacement project, a federal workplace safety inspection alleges.
In January 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiated an inspection at the Bentonview Park Health & Rehabilitation in Monett based on a referral from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. On Jan. 22, the state agency evacuated the facility’s residents – 31 days after flooring work began on Dec. 21, 2020.
OSHA alleges Eastern Coast Management Inc., SRZ Mgmt Holdings LLC and SRZ OP Bentonview LLC failed to test for the presence of asbestos, did not erect protective barriers to contain residue and failed to use respiratory and personal protective equipment to prevent exposure. Bulk samples of tile backing and mastic collected at three locations in the facility indicated that between 45 percent and 51 percent of the samples contained chrysotile asbestos.
OSHA inspectors allege that workers for the three employers removed about 10,000 square feet of floor tiles containing asbestos, and that none of the employers completed an asbestos assessment to determine its presence.
“Asbestos is a known human carcinogen released into the air when asbestos-containing materials are removed. Exposure to its fibers can cause irreversible lung damage, which is often undetected for years,” said OSHA Area Director Karena Lorek in Kansas City, Missouri. “Employers must test building materials before removal and ensure all measures are taken to prevent exposure.”
“On multi-employer projects such as this, each employer must ensure workers are safe from potential hazards. When they fail to do so, the U.S. Department of Labor will hold them accountable under the law,” Lorek added. After its inspection, OSHA cited the three companies for not implementing a respiratory protection program, exposing workers to asbestos hazards and failing to inform employees of the potential presence of asbestos. Additional violations and penalties proposed against each company include: – Eastern Coast Management Inc., the project’s lead contractor, faces proposed penalties of $105,127 for 11 serious violations. SRZ Op Holdings LLC, the facility’s owner, hired the Woodmere, New York, company to remove and replace the flooring.
SRZ Mgmt Holdings LLC of Jefferson City faces proposed penalties of $95,570 for 10 serious violations. Investigators determined the company’s regional director of operations removed flooring and used removal equipment and scrapers to keep the project moving in the lead contractor’s absence. The company assigns managers to the Bentonville facility.
SRZ OP Bentonview LLC, which operates as Bentonview Park Health and Rehabilitation, faces $38,228 in proposed penalties for four serious violations. As the facility’s manager, the company had responsibility for protecting its employees and other workers in the rehabilitation facility from potential respiratory hazards.
Bentonview Park Health and Rehabilitation provides both short-term rehabilitation and long-term care.
All three companies have 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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