State: Contractor got workers off Craigslist to remove asbestos in Everett

Great North West Painting is appealing the violations and $134,500 fine levied by the state Department of Labor Industries.

Everett

By Shea Johnson / The News Tribune

A Pierce County contractor is facing $134,500 in fines for a botched asbestos-removal job at an Everett home last year in which a state agency says the company violated more than two dozen serious rules.

Great North West Painting LLC, which state business records show is based in Milton, was hired last summer to remove a popcorn ceiling that contained asbestos, a toxic mineral fiber, according to the state Department of Labor & Industries.

After the homeowners complained to the agency, an inspection found the unfinished removal had been performed “without any of the work practices, engineering controls, or protective equipment required,” L&I said in a news release Wednesday.

The agency said Great North West Painting owner Bogdan Karcha told inspectors the workers had been hired through a Craigslist ad. Karcha couldn’t provide the workers’ full names to inspectors nor evidence that they were trained or notified they would be performing work involving asbestos, according to the agency.

Karcha, who is appealing the citations and fine, said he disagreed with L&I’s findings in a brief interview Wednesday with The News Tribune. He deferred other questions to his attorney, Robert Flennaugh, who echoed his client’s sentiment.

“Mr. Karcha respectfully disagrees with the L&I’s finding. Currently, we are appealing their decision,” Flennaugh said in a statement. “Additionally, we are willing to work with L&I to resolve any disagreement.”

According to the agency, workers didn’t turn off the furnace or seal off household items, leading asbestos-containing dust to coat furniture, carpets and other objects in the home. They were fired five days into the job for poor-quality work and left behind contaminated dust and debris, including a trail out the front door and into the driveway that passed a walkway and yard.

Workers also weren’t wearing sufficient respirators, leaving them exposed to the hazardous material, the agency said.

“This contractor clearly failed to follow rules designed to protect his customers and his workers from a deadly hazard,” Craig Blackwood, assistant director of L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, said in a statement. “What’s worse, he knowingly put them at risk by failing to even tell them about the risks they were facing or train them on how to safely do this work. This was a failure across the board.”

State regulators cited Great North West Painting for 28 violations — four of which were categorized as “willful serious,” meaning that L&I determined there had been an intentional disregard to a hazard or rule. Nineteen violations were deemed “serious,” reflecting a substantial probability that a worker could die or be seriously harmed due to a hazardous condition, and five others were general violations, according to the agency.

L&I encouraged homeowners to reference the agency’s online list of contractors certified to perform asbestos removal to “help them avoid hiring unscrupulous contractors.”

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