Thursday, March 03, 2011

Yum delicisous asbestos!

I'm employed again. Unfortunately upon returning to the same work site that I left, I find that they have begun asbestos abatement in the ceilings that I just spent a few weeks crawling in. Woo Hoo! Mesothelioma here I come! You know when the janitors vacuum the hallways in this school, you can literally see the haze of minute dust particles kicked up by their vacuums as they fail to collect anything but the largest particles of debris. Thank you Utah for spending so little on education; although I'm not sure lung cancer is going to have quite the disciplinary effect on your children that you seem to hope for.

I went and bought my self a P100 respirator, picked up a few books from the library on asbestos; and ordered a few asbestos testing kits. I'm not sure what I should do going forward. But I'm emotionally conflicted; my employer cares about me, and my coworkers. But sometimes makes really strange decisions:

On a previous job we were told some concealed areas had asbestos in them, and we were told to stay out of those areas. Also among the job site prints, plans, and spec sheets was a three ring binder full of information on the asbestos found in the building. I was reading it and came across a section saying that any maintenance worker employed to work on the building had to go through a asbestos training program. I asked one of the company owners about this, and he said that he would look in to it. The next day I found the binder gone, and I never got a response from my boss concerning the training.

Another example (I blogged about this before...) I was working on a job running electrical conduit from 10 and 12 foot ladders. I was approached by the general contractor who told me I needed to be wearing a harness. He and I called over one of the owners of the electrical company I work for. I was told to wear a harness and use a lanyard to tie off to a structural girder. I explained that I wouldn't mind doing that except that none of the fall protection gear that we had would stop a fall from such a small height. The strap around the girder would add a foot or two, the lanyard is six feet long, and stretches to twelve, and attaches to the harness at the top of my back. I'd have to fall from a height where my feet were about 15 to 20 feet off the ground for this setup to catch me. I asked my boss to buy a yo-yo (a piece of safety equipment). He and the general contractor told me to continue installing conduit without the safety equipment; they refused to deal with an employee who actually wanted safety equipment that would function.

This time no one even told us that there was asbestos in the ceilings. I still don't know what's up there or weather it friable. Naturally I'm scared for my health; maybe if I know more about it I wouldn't be. Hopefully I can find out some stuff soon.


Anonymous said...

OSHA should know about all these violations. Just sayin'.

Josiah Luscher said...

There are innumerable OSHA violations at most job sites. But for a safer work place it's the attitudes of the people that work around me that have to change.

OSHA would just get all up in our faces, "propose" some huge fines. We'd get some safety equipment, and lots of "red tape". Then a dramatically smaller fine would be levied; or none at all. And shortly after OSHA leaves everything will be back to normal.

Happened at one of my other jobs. Somebody, not me, called OSHA. There were some equipment violations, they proposed a fine of tens of thousands of dollars. We bolted a grinder to the floor, and removed some paint cans form the top shelves of the paint storage room. I think they settled on a fine of ~$500. Then we put the paint cans back on the top shelf, and that was it.

No my employer cares about our safety. After reading about Libby Montana, asbestos is just a a real sensitive subject for me; very scary.

As it turns out where I'm working it's mostly some chrysotile on the joints in the old plumbing. Fairly common, and "safe" IF undisturbed. Much of it is being removed. Also some of the ceiling tiles have a percentage of asbestos in them, and they are supposedly non-friable.

I do wish we would have been told about the plumbing joints. We were crawling on and around those pipes. I don't recall "disturbing" any joints. But I know better now; and I've made sure all my co-workers know - and they seem to be taking it seriously.

Post a Comment