Warning signs posted on the Stamford, Connecticut police station last week has prompted 51 officers to file notices with the Worker’s Compensation Commission. The warning signs indicate that not only is there asbestos in the police station, but the amount is so high that it can cause cancer.
According to news reports, there are 17 asbestos “hot spots” inside the building located at 805 Bedford Street. Officials say that it’s safe as long as these areas are not disturbed. In addition, no work is allowed on the building without first getting permission from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). However, contrary to common belief, it doesn’t take large amounts of asbestos exposure to cause life-threatening injuries. In fact, OSHA states that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Ensuring that asbestos is never disturbed until it is properly removed is the only way to help prevent health risks.
The first complaint notice was filed by female police officer this Tuesday. Since then, 50 other officers followed suit and turned in their complaints as well. According to Awilda Quesada, the administrator at the commission office, the notices will more than likely stay on file until an asbestos-related claim is made. She expects that more officers will file notices.
Stamford Already Fined For Not Protecting Workers
Just six weeks prior to the police officers filing their complaints, the city of Stamford was fined $2,720. The fine occurred after the city failed not only to screen workers for asbestos exposure, but also failure to protect them from coming into contact with asbestos.
According to a 12-page OSHA report, the city was fined when it was determined that housekeepers and contractors working inside the police building were never told about the danger of asbestos exposure. They were also never taught how to leave asbestos undisturbed or how to ensure that it doesn’t spread.
Morale Boosted Needed Among Stamford Police Officers
Per Todd Lobraico, president of the Stamford Police Association, there have been several problems affecting officers. Along with the asbestos problem, the lack of a police contract, and the tensions arising in Ferguson, MO., issues have prompted a low morale among the Stamford police. In fact, Lobraico states that the morale among officers is lower than he has ever seen in the 17 years he’s been associated with the Stamford police. He feels that filing the notices will give the officers more hope, and that if the same thing happened to children at a school, parents would be outraged.
“Clearly the signs make it evident there is a danger present. It is causing quite a stir with our membership. Not only do we have to worry about our safety on the street, we have to worry about our safety when we enter our place of work,” Lobraico said. “Our police officers have been doing a phenomenal job closing cases and catching criminals, and while they are doing this, they have the asbestos to deal with and now the warning signs to deal with every time they walk into the building and their offices. Four years later we are still without a contract, yet they are still doing an outstanding job under all those conditions.”
A New Police Station is in the Works
Meanwhile, police officers are being given medical checkups while the city looks for a new police building, which, according to City Chief of Staff Michael Pollard, is more difficult than it seems. For instance, a police department would require enough space to accommodate a jail, a firing range, a large records room, and a parking lot much bigger than what most buildings have.
“We are beginning to explore unconventional opportunities. We have no hesitation about wanting to get people out of the building, it is just a matter of finding the right location and facility,” Pollard said. “This is a top priority. We have been looking diligently for months.”
OSHA set a deadline of March for the asbestos to be properly cleared from the building. However, the order is canceled as long as the city is actively searching for an alternative building to move to.
If you or a loved one have been affected by asbestos, you may be entitled to considerable compensation. There is currently over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds for those who’ve been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease. We invite you to get in touch with our leading mesothelioma lawyers today for a free, confidential legal consultation.