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Seattle Hotel Fined $350K for Exposing Workers to Asbestos

The owner of a Seattle hotel has been fined $350,000 for knowingly exposing workers to asbestos. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) also found that the owner used untrained workers to save money.

It all started with a lobby renovation. According to a K5 News report, during the renovation, “an asbestos-abatement contractor discovered that much of the ceiling was originally constructed with cement-asbestos-board.” The hotel owner received an estimate from the certified asbestos-abatement contractor who discovered the problem, but instead hired untrained workers from a roofing contractor to remove the ceiling without informing them of the presence of asbestos.

According to K5, L&I says it found “12 intentional workplace health violations related to removal of the asbestos. Ten carried a penalty of $35,000 each, the maximum amount allowed for an employer of the hotel's size.”

Anne Soiza, L&I's Assistant Director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, called the actions by the hotel owner “unconscionable.” Asbestos is an “extremely hazardous material that's notorious for causing cancer and other serious health issues," she said. “Removal and disposal of asbestos-containing building materials must be done by a certified abatement contractor.”

Asbestos and Mesothelioma

Asbestos exposure is the only cause of mesothelioma. The disease starts in the cells in the linings of certain parts of the body, especially in the linings of the chest (pleura) or abdomen (peritoneum). Around three out of four mesotheliomas are pleural mesotheliomas. Most of the remaining cases are peritoneal mesotheliomas. Although rare, pericardial mesotheliomas (around the heart) and mesotheliomas of the tunica vaginalis (the covering layer of the testicles) have been reported.

Because it can take decades after exposure for mesothelioma to develop, the disease is often diagnosed in the later stages. Late stage disease offers the fewest treatment options, and a grim prognosis. However, individuals, like the workers hired by the Seattle hotel, can develop a monitoring plan with their doctor and watch for symptoms. These actions could greatly increase the chances of discovering the disease sooner.

Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include chest pain, shortness of breath, cough, and weight loss. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include abdominal pain, weight loss, nausea and vomiting, and swelling in the abdomen.

Though there is no cure for mesothelioma, depending on the stage, treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are available.

If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor right away.

 

Sources

Ellouk, Bernard, and Travis Pittman. "Seattle Hotel Owner Fined for Asbestos Exposure to Workers." K5 News. KING-TV, 23 Jan. 2018. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.

"What Is Malignant Mesothelioma?" American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, Inc., 2018. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.