Asbestos Injuries Bring Large Settlement to Factory Workers
A Wisconsin court ordered the corporate owner of a closed factory to pay more than $500,000 in fines and medical expenses after exposing workers to deadly asbestos. The factory violated the Clean Air Act and admitted to not giving workers the proper asbestos safety equipment.
Asbestos once filled countless U.S. homes and businesses in the form of insulation and heat-protecting materials. Throughout the construction boom following WWII, asbestos was a key element in thousands of industrial and household products, including drywall, wiring, glues, and adhesives, ceiling tiles, cement and shingles.
Some of these asbestos products remain in old structures. They are harmless if not disturbed. Asbestos injured workers while on the job.
When the asbestos industry was booming, families of workers were at great risk. Workers often came home with asbestos fibers in their hair, work clothes, and tools. This exposed family members to the toxic substance and increasing their risk for related diseases.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) presented a Workers’ Home Contamination Study to Congress that showed “families of asbestos-exposed workers have been at increased risk of pleural, pericardial or peritoneal mesothelioma, lung cancer, cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, and nonmalignant pleural and parenchymal abnormalities as well as asbestosis.”
Asbestos Injuries in Wisconsin Factory
In 2015, Grade Holdings LCC shuttered its foundry in Berlin, Wisconsin. The corporation cited tough economic times as to why it closed its doors. Almost 200 people lost their jobs. However, just two years later many workers came forward and expressed concern about the hazardous renovations done at an oven at the foundry.
According to the 2017 indictment, supervisors at the plant misled inspectors with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) by providing test results of samples taken from inside the oven.
The report said no asbestos was present. However, a second sample taken where the workers removed the insulation tested positive for chrysotile asbestos.
Clean Air Act Violation
Grede Holdings plead guilty on January 11th for violating a provision of the Clean Air Act. As part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, the company acknowledged that supervisors ordered employees to remove asbestos in an active industrial oven. However, the company failed to provide workers with the adequate equipment needed to safely remove the dangerous substance. This put the workers in imminent danger.
The court slapped Grede with the maximum fine of $200,000. Also, the company must pay 11 affected workers with almost $350,000 for future medical monitoring of mesothelioma.
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