Exposure to asbestos can cause a wide variety of debilitating and deadly diseases including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma alone is responsible for several thousand deaths annually in the United States and nearly 3,000 new victims are diagnosed every year.
The investigation into the facility was spearheaded by Diane Turek, director for the U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA Chicago North Area Office.
Specifically, OSHA cited the health center for 7 repeat safety violations and 9 other related serious health violations. Included in the list were:
The failure to provide asbestos signs and labels
Failure to provide the mandated two hours of asbestos awareness training to health center employees
Failing to informing employees of the locations of known asbestos-insulated surfaces
The hospital serves veterans of the armed forces from all over the country. It’s sadly ironic that veterans are the hardest hit by mesothelioma of any population group in the United States. Many veterans were exposed to asbestos during their terms of services, especially those who enlisted in the United States Navy. Asbestos was widely used in the shipbuilding industry and the closed compartments and close quarters of naval vessels provided a devastating environment for asbestos fibers to gather, linger, and endanger brave service men and women.
Jonathan Friedman, a spokesman for the medical center, told a local newspaper that, as far as he knew, the violations did not put any hospital staff or patients at risk. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has repeatedly reminded the public that no amount of asbestos exposure can ever be considered safe. OSHA’s own regulations require air testing and less than one-tenth of one asbestos fiber per liter of air for jobsites to remain operational.
Friedman went on to say that hospital staff “take these [violations] very, very seriously, and wanted to address them as soon as they were discovered.”
OSHA reportedly gave the Lovell center 15 business days to clean up their act and become 100% compliant – something that Friedman says they began working on the instant violations were brought to their attention.