The Pump Handle

What part don’t you understand? “Don’t expose people to asbestos!”

Beware residents and workers in San Antonio, TX: Some companies in your town are chronic and willful violators of rules to protect people from asbestos.

One Eighty Construction, Roscoe Properties, and Varco Renovations come to my attention just in time for Global Asbestos Awareness Week (April 1-7). They recently received citations from OSHA for failing to comply with measures designed to protect workers and communities from asbestos. Some of the violations they received are classified as willful and others are designated as repeat violations.

During Global Awareness Asbestos Week, I think there’s a special place for shaming companies that disregard people’s lives by exposing them to asbestos. It’s a deadly carcinogen and there is no safe level of exposure to it. Read stories like this one to learn the pain and suffering of asbestos-related diseases. It will reinforce why every measure should be taken to prevent them and why complying with OSHA’s asbestos standard is critically important.

Roscoe Properties doesn’t seem to understand its responsibility to protect the workers, residents and neighbors around their property. The property development and management firm has now been cited twice by OSHA for willfully failing to notify subcontractors of the “presence, quantity and location of asbestos containing floor tile and mastic” at two apartment complexes in San Antonio, TX: One Eleven Park Avenue and The Beverly (here, here). Subcontractors were doing renovation work at these housing complexes in October 2015 and May 2015, respectively.

OSHA reports that the general contractor for the project is One Eighty Construction. This firm’s owner, Jason Berkowitz, also owns Roscoe Properties. One Eighty Construction also received OSHA violations for the renovation work at these two projects. Two of the violations were classified as willful. One involved the removal of flooring material at The Beverly apartments which contained 30% chrysotile asbestos. OSHA notes that

I’m always perplexed when I read citations like these. OSHA’s asbestos regulations for the construction industry have been on the books since the late 1980’s. No employer can seriously claim they don’t know their responsibilities.

OSHA has also issued citations to FBZ Broadway property managers for asbestos violations at The Beverly apartment complex (here, here.) A willful violations involved failure to determine the presence of asbestos. It is the same type of violation FBZ Broadway receive just a few months earlier. OSHA had received a complaint from someone who was concerned about safety hazards at the renovation project.

And there’s more: A flooring subcontractor at the One Eleven Park Avenue complex, Colors Unlimited, did not use wet methods to control dust from being generated while they removed asbestos-containing tiles. Their citations are here. Varco Renovations received citations for repeat violations of OSHA’s asbestos standard (here). They were busted for the same infractions in the past (here, here) at The Beverly apartments. At the One Eleven Park Avenue site, OSHA also observed that Varco was putting the community especially at risk of exposure to asbestos. On the north side of the apartments, which is a multi-family housing complex:

“Varco did not collect asbestos waste, scrap, debris, bags, containers, equipment, and contaminated clothing consigned for disposal in sealed, labeled, impermeable bags or other closed, labeled, impermeable containers. Varco disposed of asbestos containing floor tile in an open-top roll-off dumpster.”

Holy smokes. It’s bad enough that these firms are potentially exposing workers and the residents in these buildings to asbestos fibers, but throwing the hazardous materials into a dumpster so it can spread around the community? Unbelievable. [I have a call into OSHA asking if they referred this information to EPA. Asbestos emissions from demolition and renovation projects are covered under NESHAP.]

What is it about the dangers of asbestos that developers, property managers, and renovators don’t understand? It’s a deadly hazard and it must be handled with the utmost caution.

Next year I’m going to mark Global Asbestos Awareness Week in a bigger and better way. I’m going to publish here on The Pump Handle a list of all the firms that have violated over the last five years, OSHA’s asbestos standards. Anyone want to join me and provide the list of violators of EPA asbestos rules? You have a year to put it together.