OSHA’s Enforcement of Asbestos Standards in the Construction Industry


Background: Exposure to asbestos continues to be a concern for workers in the construction industry. Asbestos can still be found in many construction products and in hundreds of thousands of buildings in the United States. Methods: Data from OSHA’s Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) were used to identify inspections in which violations of OSHA’s asbestos standards were cited from 2010 to 2012. Employers selected for analysis had NAICS codes in the construction industry sector. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the characteristics of OSHA’s enforcement approach to asbestos standards violations in the construction industry. Nonparametric statistics were used to identify significant differences in penalties assessed for violating asbestos standards based upon the type of violation and the type of inspection. Results: This study identified 4017 violations from 846 inspections in which the asbestos standards were cited in the construction industry. Employee complaints and referrals resulted in the largest number enforcement activities. Significant differences were identified in the fines assessed for different types of violations and inspections. Site preparation contractors, residential construction, and commercial and institutional building construction trades experienced the greatest number of violations. Most frequently cited standards included employees performing work in areas that were not properly regulated, personal protective equipment not meeting standards, and employee training not meeting standards. Conclusions: Recommended control measures include conducting targeted inspections in construction industry trades with a greater potential exposure to asbestos, improving worker awareness of asbestos and its hazards, strengthening the fining structure for asbestos violations, and conducting further research to determine underlying reasons for employers’ inability to comply with OSHA’s asbestos standards.

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Janicak, C. (2014) OSHA’s Enforcement of Asbestos Standards in the Construction Industry. Open Journal of Safety Science and Technology, 4, 157-165. doi: 10.4236/ojsst.2014.44017.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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