WA L&I Levies $800K in Fines for Asbestos Exposure

Source: france68 - 123RF

Seattle – Improper and unsafe handling of asbestos at a Seattle area home-flipping site put workers and neighbors at risk, and has left two business owners and their companies facing numerous citations and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines from the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

James Thorpe, Northlake Capital & Development, 3917 Densmore LLC, and Chris Walters have each been cited for 11 willful and serious violations. In total, the fines for the four separate investigations add up to $789,200.

L&I opened the inspection following a complaint from an alert neighbor living near the residential renovation project on Densmore Road in Lynnwood. Several workers were improperly removing exterior asbestos tiles from the home over a weekend.

When two neighbors confronted Chris Walters, the man who said he was the homeowner, Walters promised to remove the asbestos correctly. However, the neighbors took videos that showed the workers committing several violations.

An extensive investigation by L&I revealed that Walters was actually part of a complex corporate partnership created to renovate and flip the residence.

The violations included:

  • Using uncertified workers to remove asbestos;
  • Not using a certified asbestos supervisor;
  • Not obtaining an asbestos good faith survey prior to beginning work;
  • Not using water and not keeping the shingles intact during removal (the workers were breaking the tiles with hammers);
  • The lack of proper personal protective equipment for workers;
  • Not monitoring the air during removal; and
  • Failing to have a written accident prevention program.

Asbestos is extremely hazardous and can cause potentially fatal diseases like asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Only a certified abatement contractor that follows the specific asbestos-related safety and health rules may remove and dispose of asbestos-containing building materials.

If you are exposed to asbestos at your workplace above the Permissible Exposure Level (PEL) for asbestos, additional training in the use of any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) provided by your employer for your safety is warranted.

This training should be site-specific and utilize the PPE you will use as part of your job.

Training must be provided prior to, or at the time of, initial assignment and at least yearly thereafter.