Last Friday in Tacoma Superior Court, the owners of a local company appeared in order to admit guilt in failing to train employees properly on how to handle and dispose of asbestos.
According to court reports, the company, Emergency Management Training (EMT), allowed students who were supposed to be learning the proper procedures of asbestos training, to skip classes. While some students actually showed up, many of them only stayed for thirty minutes or less of an 8-hour course, while others didn’t show up at all. The owners then turned in fake records in order to let the workers bypass a follow-up mandated by the state.
In addition to falsified records, the owners of EMT also took “under the table” money in order for uncertified contractors to inspect and evaluate hospitals and schools for asbestos.
Although it’s still too early to determine if any workers or the general public were exposed to asbestos because of EMT’s negligence, authorities are diligently combing through records and finding the residential homes, school, and any businesses in which the untrained contractors worked.
Officials also stated that the issues in Tacoma is only part of the problem, and that it exists in many states across the nation.
“It is startling to me how many cases we have in this day and age where people still take that calculated risk,” said Tyler Amon, a special agent leading the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Seattle division.
In fact, in 2010, the owner of one of the biggest asbestos abatement companies in New England was arrested for the same reasons as EMT. The owner, however, was on the run for two years before being caught. In a similar incident in 2012, a company in Chattanooga, Tennessee hired untrained day labor workers and homeless people to remove asbestos from an old textile mill. Furthermore, the EPA recently caught untrained and poorly trained workers improperly handling asbestos during a large-scale renovation of apartments in northern Virginia. Several residents were exposed to the dangers fibers of asbestos.
Unfortunately, the aforementioned cases are only a few among many others in which untrained contractors work around asbestos, putting a myriad of people at risk. According to Larry Gore, an industrial hygienist for the Labor and Industries, many times it comes down to the honor system and trust, as it’s impossible to inspect every asbestos abatement company to ensure students are getting proper training.
“I think most of the time the only way we’re going to know if there’s a problem is if one of the guys in the training program has an issue with that and complains,” Gore stated.
Along with charges by the state, companies who poorly train workers are at risk of facing mesothelioma lawsuits should anyone become sick after asbestos exposure. Asbestos, although a naturally-occurring mineral, has been proven to be life-threatening when its fibers are inhaled or ingested.
If you’ve been negligently exposed to asbestos, you may be entitled to compensation. When contractors and companies willfully act in a careless manner, they are liable for any damages done. To get started and for more information, give our experienced mesothelioma law firm a call today, and we’ll help you understand your legal rights and options. We also offer a free, no-obligation case consultation.