Illinois Construction Companies Fined $2M for Knowingly Exposing Foreign Workers to Asbestos
A recent investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) determined that the owner of two Illinois construction companies knowingly exposed at least eight foreign workers to deadly asbestos fibers. Joseph Kehrer, of Kehrer Brothers Construction and D7 Roofing, was found in violation of several OSHA safety standards and has been fined nearly $2 million for failing to protect his employees, many of whom were non-English speaking temporary workers with H-2B work visas.
Investigators also found that the company’s management threatened to terminate any employees that spoke to OSHA inspectors about their work conditions. OSHA calls this “outrageous, illegal behavior” and placed Kehrer Brothers Construction on its Severe Violator Enforcement Program to prevent further danger to employees.
Kehrer Brothers Construction has an extensive history of past violations with OSHA. This most recent incident caused them to receive 16 “egregious” violations, nine of which are considered “willful” and six “serious”. According to the citations, OSHA alleges that the company failed to:
- Provide employees with personal protective equipment
- Provide a decontamination area for workers to change in before leaving the work site
- Take appropriate measures to reduce the risk of asbestos exposure, including removal of tiles and other materials intact and using wet methods to prevent fibers from becoming airborne
D7 was also fined nearly $150 million for failing to inform workers of the presence of asbestos at the work site, not providing the proper training, and failing to conduct required inspections.
Inhalation of asbestos fibers is linked to lung disease and mesothelioma, a cancer affecting the lining of the stomach or lungs that is usually fatal. Asbestos fibers that cling to clothing may also transfer to other surfaces, creating a secondary exposure danger to others.
If you have sustained an injury due to unsafe work conditions or have suffered the loss of a loved one due to negligent employment practices, you may be entitled to compensation. The Houston personal injury lawyer from the Law Office of Daniel D. Horowitz, III PC can help bring justice to even the most complex case. For a free consultation, please call our office at (832) 225-4902.