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OSHA fines Md. business in asbestos removal on college campus

OSHA fines Md. business in asbestos removal on college campus

Federal officials are planning to fine Maryland-based Sodexho Inc. $81,000 for health and safety violations following an asbestos removal project earlier at a West Virginia college campus. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration found the violations during an inspection in March -- 12 of the violations were serious, meaning the employer knew that the violation created 'substantial probability' of death or serious harm in the workplace.

These violations included failure to provide respirators, protective clothing and training for the employees, resulting in exposure to the asbestos. The company also failed to inform workers of the locations and materials which contained asbestos. Sodexho Inc employs 25 people at the campus, and has the option to comply with the citations or appeal.

Sodexho Inc was also cited for its failure to record accurate information in 300 illness and injury logs, reflecting knowledge of the illnesses and risks associated with its work and negligence in following protocols.

Asbestos is connected with respiratory illnesses and cancers, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. These respiratory conditions require costly treatment and often lead to death. The company's violations reflect knowledge of these risks, but do not reflect adequate care or responsibility toward their employees. Additionally, companies are meant to be bound to OSHA standards for their workers -- workers who trust in their employers to have their best interest at heart.

This case reflects a theme that many people avoid thinking about: companies often look out for themselves and the bottom line more so than they look out for the people they employ.

Source: The Associated Press, "OSHA fines Sodexho $81K for asbestos-removal safety violations at Alderson-Broaddus College", Aug. 16, 2012

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