OSHA Cites Subcontractor for Asbestos Exposures in Hospital Demolition

By Guy Burdick

Chicago-area subcontractor K.L.F. Enterprises faces $392,002 in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines for exposing its employees and others to asbestos during the structural demolition of a Waukegan, Illinois, hospital, the agency announced May 15.

Agency investigators observed K.L.F. employees not wearing protective equipment amid piles of debris and steel I-beams during the structural demolition of the eight-story former Lakes Behavioral Health hospital. Investigators found that K.L.F. continued demolition activities—disturbing and removing asbestos used to fireproof the building’s interior—despite recognizing that the debris piles outside were likely asbestos-laden. The company didn’t stop work or require employees to take appropriate precautions or use established control measures to protect themselves from asbestos exposure.

“K.L.F. Enterprises’ decision not to stop work immediately or ensure appropriate control measures were followed when asbestos was clearly visible exposed these employees to a highly carcinogenic material with the potential for permanent, negative long-term health outcomes,” Sukhvir Kaur, OSHA’s Chicago North area director, said in an agency statement.

The agency also cited general contractor Reed Illinois Construction for not ensuring K.L.F. Enterprises, its subcontractor, complied with federal safety and health standards for asbestos, as well as for failing to inspect the site frequently and regularly for safety hazards. The agency proposed penalties totaling $32,262.

OSHA cited V Covington LLC with a serious violation for the owner’s failure to ensure K.L.F. Enterprises and another subcontractor, Alliance Environmental Control Inc., complied with the federal asbestos standard, proposing a penalty of $16,131.

The agency cited Alliance Environmental Control of Lansing, Illinois, with a serious violation for creating asbestos hazards by not removing asbestos, including the fireproofing insulation. The employer faces a proposed OSHA penalty of $6,452.