Olivet Management LLC, a real estate development and management company, faces $2.3 million in proposed fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
OSHA says the company exposed its own employees, as well as employees for 13 contractors, to asbestos and lead hazards during cleanup operations at the former Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center in Dover Plains, N.Y., prior to a tour of the site by potential investors.
“Olivet knew that asbestos and lead were present at this site, yet the company chose to ignore its responsibility to protect its own workers and contractors,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “The intolerable choice this company made put not only workers, but also their families, in danger.”
OSHA determined that Olivet knowingly failed to take basic safety precautions and did not inform their own employees or contractors about the presence of asbestos and lead, despite knowing that both hazards existed. OSHA says the workers were exposed during removal of asbestos- and lead-contaminated debris, asbestos floor tiles and insulation, and lead paint from walls, windows, door frames, and other painted surfaces.
Olivet, OSHA alleges, did not: monitor workers’ exposure levels; provide appropriate respiratory protection; nor post notices, warning signs and labels to alert workers and contractors to the presence of asbestos and lead. The company also did not provide clean changing and decontamination areas for workers, many of whom wore their contaminated clothing home to households with small children, OSHA says.
In January, the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration ordered Olivet to stop all work that could disturb asbestos at the facility; and it is continuing to investigate the case.