According to a news article from CBS Boston, a plumber in Worcester has been convicted on child endangerment charges. The facts as alleged by prosecutors were that defendant hired a teenage worker to remove asbestos insulation. This teenage worker was not trained in asbestos removal or properly certified and was not provided with any protective clothing or a respirator/ventilator as required by Massachusetts law.
The 43-year-old plumber allegedly violated numerous regulations (worker safety and environmental) during the course of this illegal asbestos abatement job. He was hired to replace two very old boilers that were in the basement of the Worcester home. These boilers were covered with asbestos insulation, which was very common in boilers manufactured during the time period in which they were produced and installed in the home.
Pursuant to Massachusetts law, asbestos abatement workers must be trained and certified and provided with proper protective clothing and respirators or ventilators. The protective clothing must be removed from the jobsite and properly disposed to prevent airborne exposure. In no case should a worker be allowed to take asbestos covered clothing home at the end of the day.
Our Boston mesothelioma injury lawyers have seen many cases where people became sick because their parents would come home from work covered in asbestos fibers. When a child would hug her dad at end of the day, she was unknowingly being exposed to the same deadly fibers her father had inhaled all day. These types of asbestos exposure cases are often referred to as “take home” exposure cases.
In addition to being properly trained and certified, and provided with proper equipment, it is also legally required that that workers wet the asbestos to prevent dust from unnecessarily being released into the air. Once the asbestos is wet and removed, it must be carefully placed in approved plastic containers, so it can be taken to an approved hazardous waste disposal facility. In no event shall it be placed in ordinary construction dumpsters. Unfortunately, none of this happened in this case, according to Massachusetts prosecutors.
In this case, prosecutors say the boy did not wet the asbestos, was not wearing any safety equipment and used a putty knife to tear the asbestos away before destroying the two boilers with a sledge hammer and throwing them in a dumpster. Again, this is especially dangerous, since a garbage removal company will not take any required safety precautions to prevent the community form being exposed to the deadly asbestos fibers.
While it is common for prosecutors to charge a defendant with violations of the Massachusetts Clean Air Act and other violations of labor laws and environmental regulations, this represents the first time an alleged offender was also charged with child endangerment. It is not, however, the first time a contractor used a teenage worker to illegally remove asbestos.
In addition to being found guilty for these violations related to the illegal asbestos abatement job, he is also being sentenced for allegedly committing larceny over $250 of an elderly woman, which is an enhanced offense in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
Worcester Plumber Convicted Of Child Endangerment In Illegal Asbestos Removal, June 17, 2014, CBS Boston
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Mesothelioma Lawsuits for Shipyard Workers, July 30, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog