A Seattle hotel owner has been fined $355,000 after knowingly exposing workers to asbestos, saddling them with years of worry about a mesothelioma diagnosis in the future.
The fine, imposed by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, comes after an investigation revealed 12 willful workplace health violations. This included exposing untrained construction workers to the deadly carcinogenic material, leaving the debris on the site where it risked exposure to both workers and visitors, failure to provide appropriate protection for workers, and more.
Asbestos exposure has been directly linked to malignant mesothelioma and other significant diseases, and as a result there are strict regulations and laws regarding the proper handling and disposal of the hazardous material. According to the report conducted by the state Labor and Industries (L&I) agency, the charges were filed against the owner of the Seattle Pacific Hotel. Raj Nariya, who undertook a hotel lobby renovation.
“During the lobby renovation, an asbestos-abatement contractor had discovered that much of the ceiling was originally constructed with cement-asbestos-board,” the report states.
“The L&I investigation found that the hotel owner, Raj Nariya, had gotten an estimate from the certified asbestos-abatement contractor who discovered the issue, but didn’t hire that firm. Instead, the owner had untrained employees of a roofing contractor do the work without letting them know the ceiling contained asbestos.”
The untrained workers who ended up doing the demolition of the asbestos-contaminated ceiling had no idea that their work was exposing them to the risk of mesothelioma, asbestosis and asbestos-related cancers, an issue that Anne Soiza L&I’s assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health called “unconscionable.”
“It’s an extremely hazardous material that’s notorious for causing cancer and other serious health issues,” she said.
The fine assessed against Nariya was the maximum allowed, and included 12 willful workplace health violations, with ten carrying a penalty of $35,000 each.
Companies have knowingly exposed workers to asbestos for decades, and it has led to untold tragedy. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and you need information about the resources available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today.
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