January 23, 2019

6 firms cited for asbestos violations during work at Evanston school

Federal safety officials say six Chicago-area companies have been cited after workers allegedly were exposed to asbestos and other hazards while renovating a middle school in Evanston.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the exposure occurred during the summer renovation of the Chute Middle School cafeteria. The agency is proposing a combined $132,000 in penalties.

OSHA and Illinois Department of Public Health officials say the companies didn’t require employees to limit asbestos exposure or wear personal protective equipment while cutting pipes that contained asbestos, failed to take air samples and didn’t properly dispose of debris.

Asbestos exposure has been linked to lung cancer.

Inspectors say some workers also were exposed to lead-based paint and electrical hazards.

The companies have 15 days to accept or contest the citations.

Associated Press

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6 firms cited for asbestos violations during work at Evanston school

No asbestos exposure during project, Heritage says

NORMAL — Public health officials investigated this week after asbestos-containing floor tiles were exposed during a renovation project at Heritage Health in Normal.

“IDPH (Illinois Department of Public Health) did receive a complaint about asbestos at Heritage Health and conducted an investigation,” Melaney Arnold of IDPH said Thursday. “Yesterday (Wednesday), IDPH confirmed that the asbestos problem had been rectified and the facility was safe for occupancy.”

“During this whole process, we have no reason to believe that any staff, residents or members of the general public came into contact with asbestos-containing material,” said Benjamin Hart, CEO of Heritage Enterprises, which owns the Normal long-term care facility at 509 N. Adelaide St.

“When we determined that we were dealing with asbestos-containing material, it was cleaned up in accordance with public health rules,” Hart said Thursday.

East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging’s long-term care ombudsman will go to Heritage to make sure residents’ questions are answered and concerns are addressed, said regional ombudsman Tami Wacker.

Hart said workers pulled up carpeting in a hallway outside the administrator’s office in the middle of the building. The carpeting had been glued to tiles underneath and the tiles came up intact with the carpet, Hart said.

“We determined that they were asbestos-containing tile,” he said.

Asbestos, because of its strength and heat-resistance, was used for years in building construction materials. Exposure to asbestos fibers released into the air may increase the risk of lung disease.

Heritage consulted with Public Health investigators on Tuesday, covered the floor and closed off a small part of the hallway while clean up work was done, Hart said.

“Any asbestos-containing material was properly disposed of by a licensed environmental disposal firm,” he said.

Residents weren’t relocated during the clean up.

“The air was sampled by an approved contractor and the air was clean,” Hart said. The closed-off area reopened about 3 p.m. Wednesday.

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No asbestos exposure during project, Heritage says