Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Federal Employers Accused of Neglecting Safety

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Federal Employers Accused of Neglecting Safety

Article excerpt

Two federal employers--the Architect of the Capitol and the Department of the Interior--are under fire for allegedly exposing workers to serious environmental, health and safety hazards.

Alleging that they must work amidst falling concrete, excess heat, asbestos exposure and other hazards, 10 Capitol tunnel employees asked the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to conduct a health hazard evaluation.

Meanwhile, an internal audit ripped the Department of the Interior for exposing workers to major EHS hazards--ranging from exposed energized electrical equipment to inadequate welding exhaust ventilation systems--at its headquarters complex in Washington, D.C.

Capitol Visitors Also at Risk?

The Capitol tunnel workers--who service 5 miles of utility tunnels beneath the U.S. Capitol complex and maintain the plumbing systems that provide steam and chilled water to Congress, the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court and other federal buildings--complained that as a result of their exposures to hazardous agents, several of the workers have developed asbestos-related diseases and breathing and pulmonary problems.

"The asbestos in the tunnels not only endangers us who work in the tunnels, but also poses a danger to people who work and visit on Capitol Hill, as asbestos has escaped through the grates covering tunnel entrances," the workers asserted.

In 2000, the Architect of the Capitol was cited for safety and health violations by the Office of Compliance, which monitors working conditions in the legislative branch. …

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