A Chicago-area display manufacturer that had five of its own untrained and unprotected employees remove asbestos from pipes and boilers inside its factory has been fined $1.2 million for 27 willful and serious safety violations. On May 25, the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration said the fine is one of the largest against any employer so far this year.
Cited was Cicero, Ill.-based AMD Industries Inc., which produces merchandising and trade-show displays. The penalty followed an OSHA probe last December. AMD workers allegedly removed asbestos, which OSHA terms a “cancer-causing material,” from boilers, heating units and piping inside the firm’s 59-year-old facility without using protective clothing, respirators or containment. AMD has not returned ENR’s calls.
AMD discovered the asbestos inside its 3.2-acre plant after it commissioned a safety audit in 2002. When removal work began late last year, there was no “competent person” present, OSHA says. Firm employees stripped 180 ft of thermal pipe insulation containing 20% to 50% chrysotile asbestos before authorities intervened, says Allan Grimmett, asbestos manager for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. The agency learned of the removal when asbestos-covered pipe was sent to a recycling center. Among other things, the firm was cited for not monitoring airborne asbestos, failure to use particulate air vacuums for dust control and improper asbestos waste disposal. AMD has 15 days to contest.