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MIOSHA Cites GRL Properties for Willful and Serious Violations for Asbestos Hazards and Proposes $115,000 in Penalties
May 4, 2010 - Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth (DELEG) Director Stanley "Skip" Pruss today announced the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) has cited GRL Properties, LLC, of Grand Rapids, with $115,000 in proposed penalties for allegedly failing to adequately protect employees and the general public from serious asbestos hazards at the John Bean Building in Lansing.
"These proposed fines reflect the fact that the company knew there was asbestos-containing material in the John Bean Building and yet did not take appropriate action to protect the workers removing the material or their tenants," said Pruss. "This indifference will not be tolerated. Effective protective measures must be in place and in use when necessary to protect workers and the general public."
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that has been used in more than 3,000 different products over the last 100 years for its insulating, acoustical and fire protective properties. Common products that contain asbestos are pipe insulation, floor and ceiling tile, spray-on fireproofing and boiler wrap insulation.
Improper removal and/or disturbance of asbestos can cause asbestos fibers to become airborne. Inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers can cause:
MIOSHA Asbestos Standardsrequire a survey at all worksites involving pre-1981 buildings where asbestos may be contacted or before construction work subject to the standards begins. It is the employer's responsibility to obtain and review the building survey prior to conducting any work activities that may involve contact and/or disturbance of asbestos-containing material (ACM). The standards require that workers are adequately trained, and detail the proper maintenance, removal and handling of ACM.
On Nov. 23, 2009, the MIOSHA Asbestos Program began a complaint investigation involving an allegation that asbestos insulated piping was being removed improperly by a tenant (Property Shield, LLC) at the John Bean Building, at 1305 S. Cedar, in Lansing. The building is owned by GRL Properties, LLC, and is managed by GRL Properties Management Co., LLC, and has a variety of tenants.
Statements from Property Shield representatives indicated they had an agreement with the building owner and building manager to remove abandoned steel piping in the facility for half the money received for the scrap metal. They said representatives of GRL Properties, LLC, assured them that insulation on the piping was cardboard and not an ACM thermal system insulation (TSI).
The MIOSHA investigation found the building was not completely inspected for asbestos, and the building inspection information the building owner had was not conveyed to employees working in the facility or tenants occupying the facility. As a result, a major asbestos fiber release episode occurred, potentially exposing employees and building tenants to asbestos.
GRL Properties, LLC, and GRL Properties Management Company, LLC, and their other affiliated companies have extensive citation histories involving asbestos violations that go back to 1996. They have been fully advised multiple times of their obligations to assure that pre-1981 buildings are properly inspected for asbestos; that inspection results are conveyed to employees, tenants and contractors; and that disturbance/removal must be conducted following asbestos standards.
GRL Properties, LLC, received a total of three alleged Willful violations with a proposed penalty of $105,000. The violations included: no notification of the presence of asbestos to employees, no notification of the presence of asbestos to contractors or tenants and no training provided to employees performing housekeeping operations in a building containing asbestos.
The company also received five alleged Serious violations with a proposed penalty of $10,000. The violations included: no complete asbestos survey, proper isolation controls not used, proper decontamination not provided, and the competent person present during removal work not assuring proper work practices were utilized. The total proposed penalty for the company is $115,000.
A Willful violation is one committed with an intentional disregard of the requirements of MIOSHA regulations, or plain indifference to employee safety and health. A Serious violation exists where there is a substantial probability that serious physical harm or death can result to an employee from the exposure.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply or contest the violations and penalties. (Following is a Summary of Violations.)
"Employers have a legal responsibility to protect their workers and the general public from the hazards associated with the improper removal and/or disturbance of asbestos," said MIOSHA Director Doug Kalinowski. "We strongly encourage companies to use all available resources to ensure the safety and health of their workers and the public."
The MIOSHA Asbestos Program is sponsoring a day-long symposium on May 6th titled, "Michigan Asbestos Symposium for Trainers/Contractors." The symposium will provide the latest program information on a wide range of asbestos issues. Both MIOSHA and Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) staff will provide the training.
Training topics will include:
The symposium is being held at the Michigan State Police Academy in Lansing, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The cost at the door is $40 for lunch and materials. To register, please contact the Lansing Safety Council at 517.394.4614, or visit their website at www.safetycouncil.org.
GRL Properties, LLC #310325246(30)
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