January 21, 2019

2 companies fined $380,000 over asbestos exposure

OLYMPIA — After state regulators cited and decertified Partners Construction for exposing its workers to asbestos at a Seattle apartment project, a family member from the company started a new business to take its place on the same project.

That business, Asbestos Construction Management, shared workers and equipment used by Partners Construction.

Together, the businesses are being fined about $380,000, according to the state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

The violations occurred during the demolition of an apartment building in the Fremont neighborhood where the companies were supposed to remove asbestos before the building was torn down. A three-story building with five units, it featured “popcorn” ceilings and vinyl floors that both contained asbestos.

An L&I investigation between February and May revealed nearly 19 “willful and serious” safety and health violations between work done by the two companies. Workers were exposed to asbestos, and hazardous debris was left on site, according to a statement Friday from L&I.

Donald Murray, listed in state documents as the owner of Asbestos Construction Management, did not return a call or email seeking comment.

Asbestos, a mineral fiber found in soil and rocks, has been used in buildings and automobiles, among other things, and today is used in small amounts in a few products. It can cause mesothelioma and lung cancer, and even has its own potentially fatal disease named after it: asbestosis.

The state fined Partners Construction, which was based in Federal Way, for $291,950 for 14 violations. Asbestos Construction Management, of Bonney Lake, was fined $87,150 for five violations.

Before Partners Construction was decertified to handle asbestos and went out of business, it provided the apartment building’s owner in March with a letter stating that all asbestos had been removed.

But when L&I inspectors responded to a worker complaint, they found the site “grossly contaminated,” with about 5,400 square feet of popcorn ceiling and some vinyl flooring remaining in the building.

The companies have 15 business days to appeal the citations. Money paid toward the citations are put in a workers’ compensation pension fund to help injured workers, as well as families of workers who have died.

And L&I is pursuing further action against Asbestos Construction Management.

“We are taking steps to decertify that company,” said Elaine Fischer, spokeswoman for L&I. “We’ve begun the process; they’ve been notified.”

Joseph O’Sullivan: 360-236-8268

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Original article: 

2 companies fined $380,000 over asbestos exposure