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A Seattle-based hotel owner has been cited for multiple egregious safety and health violations and faces $355,000 in fines for exposing workers to asbestos hazards.
Raj Nariya, the owner of the Seattle Pacific Hotel, hired untrained employees of a roofing contractor for asbestos removal during a hotel remodeling project instead of the certified asbestos abatement contractor who discovered that much of the ceiling was originally constructed with cement asbestos board, according to a statement by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries issued on Monday. Mr. Nariya did not inform these untrained workers that the ceiling contained asbestos, according to the statement.
The department began an investigation last July and immediately issued a stop-work order, according to the statement. The investigation uncovered 12 willful workplace health violations, including exposing workers to asbestos, failing to provide respiratory protection, leaving asbestos debris on site and other safety and health issues. Mr. Nariya was also cited for an additional willful-general violation for not taking a pre-removal air sample before removing the asbestos materials, according to the statement.
“It's unconscionable that anyone would knowingly expose untrained and unprotected workers to asbestos,” Anne Soiza, the department’s assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, said in the statement. “It's an extremely hazardous material that's notorious for causing cancer and other serious health issues.”
Raj Nariya and the Seattle Pacific Hotel could not be immediately reached for comment.
Six cases claiming that asbestos exposure more than 30 years ago resulted in mesothelioma were dismissed by a federal appeals court Tuesday.