City of Greensboro fined for asbestos exposure at War Memorial
The City of Greensboro received a $3,250 fine from the North Carolina Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Division (OSHA) on Friday for the mishandling of the asbestos abatement process that took place at the War Memorial Auditorium. As first reported by YES! Weekly in late December, some city workers have been exposed to harmful asbestos while working at the War Memorial Auditorium. Those employees were notified of the possible exposure prior to the OSHA investigation and have gone through an interview process with human resources to discuss their health concerns. Exposure could lead to lung cancer, mesothelioma and other diseases that can cause permanent body damage and death.Greensboro City Manager Jim Westmoreland reported that the city will contest the citation and the penalty as well. Westmoreland further advised the asbestos contamination at War Memorial Auditorium “…has been cleaned up and the full abatement process will be completed this week.”The OSHA fine was due to the city failing to rope off areas where asbestos has been disturbed. Asbestos is dangerous once it has been disturbed and it enters into the air. Once that happens, people can breathe in the harmful chemicals that cause cancer and other deadly diseases. That’s why the City of Greensboro and the State of North Carolina require all demolition permits to have asbestos abatement done prior to demolitions. However, due to an unknown misstep that has been identified only as a “miscommunication” 10 city employees were exposed to the harmful asbestos and could be getting sicker by the minute. What exactly is the city appealing? The city readily admits that there was a “miscommunication” that caused scrappers to begin removing items, like copper piping, from War Memorial Auditorium. The problem with that is nothing should have been removed until after the asbestos abatement process was completed. It’s painfully obvious that a staff member of supervisor status did not do what they were supposed to do. Unfortunately, the 10 employees that were exposed got exposed because they were doing their jobs. Their job duties required them to do work near the disturbed, and therefore dangerous, asbestos. Someone on the city staff is responsible for a major misstep and the city manager’s office wants to assure the council that the city will appeal? How about making sure the person who is responsible for the mysterious miscommunication is fired. How about making an example out of this situation so that it will never happen again. The city has no reason to appeal. They messed up and people could suffer greatly because of that unidentifiable miscommunication. An appeal is a slap in the face to the ones exposed. The city wants to lessen the fine through an appeal process. I’m sure those exposed would like to appeal their fate as well.