MONETT, Mo. — According to U.S. Department of Labor, three employers at a Missouri residential nursing facility exposed workers and residents to asbestos and failed to ensure the safe removal of the known carcinogen during a flooring replacement project.
In January 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiated an inspection at the Bentonview Park Health & Rehabilitation based on a referral from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. On January 22, 2021, the state agency evacuated the facility’s residents after flooring work began on December 21, 2020.
OSHA alleges Eastern Coast Management Inc., SRZ Mgmt Holdings LLC and SRZ OP Bentonview LLC failed to test for the presence of asbestos, did not erect protective barriers to contain residue, and failed to use respiratory and personal protective equipment to prevent exposure.
According to OSHA, bulk samples of tile backing and mastic collected at three locations in the facility indicated that between 45 percent and 51 percent of the samples contained chrysotile asbestos.
“Asbestos is a known human carcinogen released into the air when asbestos-containing materials are removed. Exposure to its fibers can cause irreversible lung damage, which is often undetected for years,” said OSHA Area Director Karena Lorek in Kansas City, Missouri. “Employers must test building materials before removal and ensure all measures are taken to prevent exposure.”
After the inspection, OSHA cited the three companies for not implementing a respiratory protection program, exposing workers to asbestos hazards, and failing to inform employees of the potential presence of asbestos.
Additional violations and penalties proposed against each company include:
- Eastern Coast Management Inc., the project’s lead contractor, faces proposed penalties of $105,127 for 11 serious violations. SRZ Op Holdings LLC, the facility’s owner, hired the Woodmere, New York, company to remove and replace the flooring.
- SRZ Mgmt Holdings LLC of Jefferson City faces proposed penalties of $95,570 for 10 serious violations. Investigators determined the company’s regional director of operations removed flooring and used removal equipment and scrapers to keep the project moving in the lead contractor’s absence. The company assigns managers to the Bentonville facility.
- SRZ OP Bentonview LLC, which operates as Bentonview Park Health and Rehabilitation, faces $38,228 in proposed penalties for four serious violations. As the facility’s manager, the company had responsibility for protecting its employees and other workers in the rehabilitation facility from potential respiratory hazards.
All three companies have 15 business days to request an informal conference with OSHA’ s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.