A global facilities management company faces $81,000 in federal fines for a dozen serious health and safety violations during an asbestos removal project at a college library.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Sodexo Inc., of Gaithersburg, MD, for one other-than-serious and 12 serious violations following an inspection March 8 that was triggered by a complaint at Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi, WV.
|Sodexo has been cited for exposing workers to safety and health violations at Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi, WV.|
Sodexo employs about 25 workers at the college and is responsible for grounds work, housekeeping and security.
Constructive Discussion Planned
In an e-mailed statement to D+D News, Sodexo spokesman Greg Yost said the company had received and reviewed the OSHA citation and would be meeting next week with OSHA representatives.
“The safety of our employees, customers, and clients is our top priority,” Yost added. “We are cooperating with OSHA and look forward to a constructive discussion.”
Sodexo, formerly Sodexho Alliance, is one of largest food services and facilities management companies in the world. The company services many sectors, including private corporations, military bases, government agencies, schools, hospitals, assisted-living facilities, and correctional facilities.
According to OSHA, Sodexo employees were performing Class II asbestos work at the Alderson-Broaddus Pickett Library when federal authorities inspected the site in response to a complaint.
The citation notification indicated that Sodexo employees were removing 2’ x 2’ ceiling tiles with asbestos-containing material from the library.
The alleged violations, classified as serious, include failing to:
• Provide respirators, protective clothing and training for employees;
• Inform workers of the location and quantities of asbestos-containing material;
• Provide workers who voluntarily wear dust masks with Appendix D information of the Respirator Standard on the use of dust masks or respirators;
• Ensure that the work was conducted in regulated areas and supervised by a competent person;
• Conduct daily monitoring to assess employee exposure and airborne concentration exposure;
• Ensure proper disposal of ceiling tiles;
• Ensure wet methods were used when conducting the work; and
• Equip vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters.
A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Additionally, the company was cited with one other-than-serious violation for recording inaccurate information in OSHA 300 injury and illness logs.
According to OSHA records, various Sodexo facilities nationwide have been inspected a total of 45 times since 2005. Of those, 21 were triggered by complaints and six by accidents; a variety of citations were issued on 19 occasions. All of those cases are considered closed.
In addition, Sodexo has six other OSHA inspections still considered open. Citations were issued on four of those occasions at various facilities.
Sodexo has no record of OSHA violations in West Virginia.
Danger of Asbestos
Asbestos is a mineral fiber commonly used in a variety of building construction materials. When disturbed by repair, remodeling or demolition, microscopic asbestos fibers become airborne and can be inhaled into the lungs, where they can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and other serious health problems.
“Asbestos work poses serious safety and health risks to workers, including lung disease and other disorders,” said Prentice Cline, director of OSHA’s Charleston Area Office. “Sodexho must immediately correct these violations to ensure that its employees have a safe and healthful work environment.”