The U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is proposing $392,000 in penalties, after citing Chicago-area demolition subcontractor KLF Enterprises Inc. with 36 alleged violations—35 serious and one willful—for knowingly exposing workers to asbestos. OSHA also cited the building owner, general contractor and a second sub, proposing additional penalties of $54,000, for a total of $446,000. 

OSHA issued the citations May 14. The companies then have 15 days to request a conference or contest the findings. 

OSHA opened an investigation last Nov. 16 after inspectors saw KLF crews not wearing protective equipment during demolition of an eight-story building on the Lake Behavioral Health campus in Waukegan, Ill., according to the agency. Inspectors also witnessed employees working amid piles of debris and cutting steel beams earlier sprayed with insulation containing asbestos, officials say. 

KLF had a 2019 building survey that clearly showed asbestos had been used as fire-resistance on the beams, but it did not inform its employees of the hazard, OSHA says. The subcontractor failed to provide decontamination or shower areas for workers, ensure they wore respirators or whole-body protective clothing and contain airborne asbestos.

KLF also did not convey information about the asbestos to the owner or other employers within 24 hours of its discovery, according to OSHA. Additionally, KLF employees were exposed to silica and lead, as well as other hazards at the jobsite, officials say. 

“KLF Enterprises' decision not to stop work immediately or ensure appropriate control measures were followed when asbestos was clearly visible and [it] exposed these employees to a highly carcinogenic material with the potential for permanent, negative long-term health outcomes,” said Sukhvir Kaur, OSHA’s Chicago North area director, in a statement. 

KLF did not immediately respond to inquiries.

OSHA also issued a pair of citations to the general contractor, Reed Illinois Construction, saying it failed to ensure KLF was in compliance with the asbestos standard. It proposed more than $32,000 in penalties for the contractor. Officials also proposed the building owner, V Covington LLC, pay more than $16,000 for failing to determine whether subs on the project were compliant with asbestos regulations, and proposed a $6,000 penalty for another subcontractor, Alliance Environmental Control Inc., which officials say also failed to abate the asbestos exposure hazards. 

The owner and Reed did not immediately respond to inquiries. A phone number listed for Alliance was no longer in service.