A number of corrections officers at the Queens, New York jail are claiming they’ve been exposed to asbestos, and their superiors aren’t doing anything to help.
New York Daily News reports that officers awaiting disciplinary hearings at the Queens Detention Complex were assigned to an unused wing of the jail to basically “do nothing,” while numerous construction workers were removing asbestos in the area. While the construction workers were given masks to wear, the corrections officers had no safety protection at all, and had to stay in the area while asbestos fibers permeated the air.
According to one of the correction officers,
“They want us to sit there while they’re knocking out walls and removing asbestos. These guys got masks on and all this other stuff and you want us to sit there while they’re cutting walls down.”
The construction has been going on for around a week now, per the corrections officer. The construction company even placed a red warning tape around the area that reads, Danger Asbestos, yet, the officers are reportedly surrounded by it with no protection.
Asbestos is a dangerous mineral with microscopic, odorless fibers that permeate throughout the vicinity when disturbed. Once asbestos fibers become airborne, people in the area can easily breathe in the toxic fibers without knowing. The fibers become lodged in the body, and over time, can lead to life-threatening illnesses such as malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, and asbestos-related lung cancer.
EXCLUSIVE: Correction officers complain about asbestos danger at Queens jail https://t.co/nG1h2ffyFT
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) August 19, 2016
A spokesperson for the Department of Corrections stated that they’e followed all safety procedures and that despite what the corrections officers said, they were never at risk.
“All protocols were immediately followed in this case and the situation was swiftly abated. At no time was an officer exposed or at risk.”
Officials said that it only took one day to remove the asbestos and that nine corrections officers who were on waiting on a disciplinary hearing were asked to watch the area for fires. Yet, the corrections officers disagree. One of the officers said,
“I sign in and go sit in the park. I’m not sitting on the floor with asbestos. When you’re a modified officer it’s like you don’t exist. They have nothing for you to do. You’re not working a post, you’re not doing paperwork, you’re not doing nothing. All they want you to do is watch DVDs all day.”
The officer’s story backs up a June incident that occurred at Rikers Island prison, when a total of 90 officers on modified duty were assigned to sit in a “rubber room” and do nothing while awaiting their disciplinary hearings.
Watch the video below to see footage of the construction area, and the room where the corrections officers sat while construction work was being performed on the jail.
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