Lynnwood firm faces $790K in fines for improper asbestos handling

State regulators said this is the fifth time Seattle Asbestos of Washington violated “essential” safety measures.

Lynnwood

LYNNWOOD — A Lynnwood asbestos removal contractor is facing nearly $800,000 in fines for repeatedly exposing workers and homeowners to hazardous conditions at local job sites.

The state Department of Labor & Industries issued 35 willful health and safety violations to the Lynnwood-based Seattle Asbestos of Washington, the agency announced Thursday. The company’s fines totaled more than $790,000.

Violations are considered “willful” when the company knew or should have known the requirements, but fails to meet them.

“These are certified asbestos supervisors, working for a certified asbestos abatement contractor, who know the rules but have demonstrated time and again they will not prioritize the safety or the health of workers or customers,” said Craig Blackwood, assistant director agency’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, in a statement.

Asbestos can potentially cause life-threatening diseases such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. Only a certified abatement contractor following asbestos-related safety rules can remove and dispose of building materials containing asbestos.

Seattle Asbestos of Washington didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

State regulators recently inspected two of the company’s job sites and found dozens of violations that created a risk of exposure for workers and homeowners.

At a Mountlake Terrace home, inspectors found plastic barriers, used to seal off areas from airborne asbestos particles, had holes in them.

At a second home, in Ferndale, inspectors saw workers leaving the worksite without protective clothing or respirators. The company also reportedly left a large amount of crumbling asbestos insulation in a basement after leaving.

At both locations, inspectors found equipment used to clean harmful particles from the air wasn’t working properly. Other violations include kitchen appliances and a wood stove that weren’t covered with plastic to seal them from particles, as well as a large pile of drywall sitting on the living room carpet that was not bagged or saturated with water to keep down the dust. And workers hadn’t placed plastic drop cloths, which are used to protect surfaces from contamination, anywhere in the work area, according to the agency.

Labor and Industries ordered the company to stop work at both sites until the problems were corrected.

This is the fifth inspection in which the company left asbestos-containing material behind or violated essential asbestos safety measures, the agency said.

The company filed an appeal in the first case involving the Mountlake Terrace site, but did not appeal the second.

State officials have begun the process of revoking the company’s certification to do asbestos work in Washington.

Labor & Industries encourages homeowners to protect themselves by reviewing the agency’s list of certified contractors before hiring an asbestos removal company.

Janice Podsada: 425-339-3097; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @JanicePods.

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