Detroit-based DMC Consultants, Inc. has been fined $265,200 by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) for violating worker safety rules.
Fourteen violations were given by MIOSHA to DMC—almost all for improper asbestos removal. According to the state, 12 of the 14 violations were for “willful or serious violations.” The contractor was working on renovating two Ypsilanti duplexes that received unsatisfactory health inspections, which lead to the fines.
“Willful violations” are “those in which an employer intentionally broke state rules or was otherwise indifferent to them,” said MIOSHA. “Serious violations” are due to “hazardous situations that have a high probability of causing harm or death to employees in the event of an accident, and the employer was, or should have been, aware of the problem.”
DMC Consultants failed to monitor for asbestos exposure while the hazardous substance was being abated throughout demolition and it did not make sure the removal was completed in a regulated area.
Plus, adequate notification was not provided to MIOSHA announcing the asbestos work was to be done even though the material was knowingly present at both Ypsilanti construction sites.
In fact, a DMC employee was the one who brought the problems to the state’s attention. Following the compliant and both a July and August inspection, $154,600 was fined for the 955 Madison St. location and another $110,600 for contracting at 113 Bell St.
“DMC also failed to use proper hazard control methods, provide proper respiratory protection, or protective clothing, or offer a decontaminated area for workers and equipment,” said MIOSHA.
Asbestos has long been used in building materials (i.e., insulations, floor tiles, roofing shingles, paper products, heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets, and coatings.) Asbestos exposure can lead to asbestosis and the deadly mesothelioma cancer.
Company co-owner Mike Chaudhary said DMC still doesn’t have the official citation notice, but plans to review and contest the violations “1,000 percent.” “We have never had a single violation to date. It is very, very serious. It has never happened in our history, so we have to go to the depth of it and figure it out.”
According to a Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs spokesperson, at least for the past four years, no willful or serious citations have been issued for any of DMC’s projects. A non-serious violation was given in 2014, but it did not have anything to do with asbestos safety.
DMC can take up to 15 days to reply to the official notice. The owners, Mike and Darshita Chaudhary, can then decide if the general contracting company wants to pay the almost $270k in fines or if it indeed wants to challenge the violations.