Asbestos abatement (removal) must be performed by a certified contractor with employees that are properly trained in asbestos safety and who are provided with proper protective clothing including respirators or ventilators. All asbestos abatement must be done after obtaining permits from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). Once proper permits are in hand, the work must be done in such a way that insures workers and those in the surrounding community are not exposed to deadly asbestos fibers.
There are a lot of ways to accomplish this. The area is generally tented off or otherwise sealed, and asbestos material itself may also be sealed prior to removal. In some cases, the asbestos removal workers will paint the material with a thick coat of industrial sealant to make sure the fibers cannot escape. This is similar to lead paint removal on bridges and other outdoor structures. Once the asbestos debris is removed, it must be kept wet at all times to prevent dust from flying into the air, and then it must be secured in approved plastic containers. These containers must be kept sealed and transported to an approved hazardous waste facility. Even though it happens all the time, asbestos dust should never be placed in ordinary construction dumpsters.
According to a recent news article from the Shrewsbury Patch, an asbestos abatement firm located in the Boston suburb was fined nearly $20,000 for violations of asbestos removal regulations during a job at residential building in Millbury, Massachusetts. This fine was actually imposed a year ago, but all except $5,000 was suspended. MassDEP said that if the firm cleaned up their act and did not violate any other asbestos safety regulations, they would not have pay the remaining $15,000 in fines. However, MassDEP has alleged the company failed to fix the problem and again was engaged in dangerous behavior with respect to asbestos removal.
According to MassDEP, these new violations involved failing to seal off a work area while removing asbestos and failing to use a HEPA-filtered asbestos cleaning system on the job. Deadly asbestos fibers are microscopic in size, but a HEPA filter can trap the particles. This is the same type of filter used in asbestos rated respirators.
MassDEP required the company personnel to correct the violations in the Shrewsbury location at the time of the inspection. Representatives of the environmental regulators say these companies are well aware of the dangers of handling asbestos. They are also well aware of the many safety regulations when handling asbestos. It is true that there are a lot of rules and regulations, but these companies chose to enter this field because they hoped to make a lot of money, and, as result of the decision, they must deal with the many safety regulations as part of the cost of doing business.
Workers are often the ones at most risk, while the owners are typically not present on the jobsite during the abatement process. This means that by not providing proper safety equipment, they are taking a serious risk with the lives of others, and this results in future victims of malignant mesothelioma.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Asbestos Company Fined for Violations in Shrewsbury Project, December 19, 2015, Shrewsbury Patch, By Charlene Aresnault
More Blog Entries:
Can Family of Asbestos Workers Sue for Illness?, September 15, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog