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OSHA fines contractors over asbestos exposures

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The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited a contractor and subcontractor for exposing workers to asbestos hazards and proposed combined penalties totaling more than $70,000.

The exposure occurred while the workers were replacing a commercial roof in Chicago, the agency said Tuesday in a statement.

Niles, Illinois-based Continental Contractors 2000 Inc. was cited for 11 serious violations, which carry proposed fines of $21,600, according to the statement. The violations include failing to provide respirator training, failing to fit-test respirators prior to their use and not providing personal protective clothing for workers exposed to asbestos hazards, according to the citations.

Gurnee, Illinois-based Local Roofing Co. Inc., which had been subcontracted to demolish, remove and replace the building's roofing system, was issued nine serious violations featuring proposed penalties of $48,510, according to the news release. The violations include the dry sweeping of dust and debris containing asbestos and operations occurring in areas where the airborne concentration of asbestos exceeded or possibly exceeded permissible exposure limits, according to the citations.

“Asbestos exposure can cause chronic lung disease and cancer,” Angeline Loftus, OSHA's area director for the Chicago North office in Des Plaines, Illinois, said in the statement. “No worker should be exposed to this potentially life-ending substance without being trained and provided protective equipment.”

Company spokespeople could not be immediately reached for comment.