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Repeat Asbestos Case Draws $81K Fine

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

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A host of repeat and serious asbestos allegations have a major Colorado commercial roofing contractor once again in trouble with federal health and safety authorities.

The allegations against Douglass Colony Group Inc. run the gamut, from employees using bandanas instead of respirators, to dry cutting and other ill-advised practices, to lack of supervision, to dropping asbestos-containting debris three stories into an open, unlabeled truck for disposal.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration issued the citations Wednesday (Aug. 27)  against Commerce City-based Douglass for hazards found between April 30 and June 18 on a worksite in Denver.

Douglass Colony Group Inc Asbestos
Douglass Colony Group Inc.

Douglass Colony Group Inc., a Colorado roofer, was issued four repeat and seven serious citations for allegedly exposing workers to asbestos.

Inspectors said employees had been removing roof tar, paper, insulation and a membrane from an office building roof. An analysis found that the materials contained up to 20 percent chrysotile asbestos.

Round 6

OSHA has inspected Douglass Colony worksites eight times in three years, according to agency records. This is the sixth time citations have been issued.

The cases included a 2011 accident, in which an employee fell 16 feet through an open skylight onto a metal grate floor, breaking his shoulder and other bones. That case remains open, according to a check of OSHA records Friday (Aug. 29).

Founded in 1947, Douglass Roofing bills itself as "the Rocky Mountain region’s premier full-service commercial roofing, industrial and steep roofing contractor."

Repeat Violations

The new case involves four repeat and seven serious violations.

Three of the four repeat citations, carrying $45,000 in proposed penalties, allege failure to  provide “a competent supervisor to oversee the removal of asbestos-containing material, conduct an asbestos exposure assessment, and provide adequate training for workers performing asbestos removal duties,” according to OSHA.

Douglass Colony
Douglass Colony Group

Douglass Colony Group bills itself as "the Rocky Mountain region’s premier full-service commercial roofing, industrial and steep roofing contractor."

Similar violations were cited in June 2013, with no fines issued.

A fourth repeat violation, carrying a $15,000 fine, alleges that employees failed to use wet methods to remove the materials. The employees used dry cutting on the materials and then shoveled the dry-cut debris into wheelbarrows, where it was dumped down a three-story chute into an open trop trailer.

A repeat violation is issued if an employer was previously cited for the same or a similar violation within the last five years.

'Dangerous Material'

“Asbestos is a dangerous material that can potentially cause lifelong, irreversible health problems if proper procedures are not followed,” said Herb Gibson, OSHA’s area director in Denver in an announcement.

“OSHA’s asbestos standard has a specific work practice covering roofing operations that the employer failed to follow, exposing workers to needless health hazards.”

Douglass Colony Group asbestos
Wikimedia

The company faces $81,000 in proposed fines for, but not limited to, exposing its workers to asbestos and failing to provide "a competent supervisor" to oversee its removal.

In addition to the repeat violations, seven serious violations allege failure to:

  • Conduct asbestos removal work within a regulated area;
  • Conduct daily air monitoring to determine employee exposure;
  • Provide protective respiratory equipment and clothing;
  • Identify and inform workers and others of the presence, quantity and location of asbestos-containing material; and
  • Label waste containers holding asbestos products.

These violations carry a proposed $21,000 fine.

According to OSHA, 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.

   

Tagged categories: Asbestos; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; OSHA; Roofing contractors

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