“Unconscionable” is how one safety administrator described a long string of asbestos violations at a Seattle hotel. The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) determined that the owner of the Seattle Pacific Hotel willfully exposed construction workers on multiple occasions to asbestos hazards.
The owner, identified as Raj Nariya, was found to have knowingly exposed untrained workers to asbestos during a renovation of the hotel lobby. Following an investigation of the work site, L&I discovered that these workers were neither trained nor certified to safely perform the removal of asbestos. More to the point, the owner had apparently been informed by a certified asbestos-abatement contractor about the presence of asbestos in the ceiling, but instead of using that contractor, he opted instead to hire untrained workers unfamiliar with the dangers of asbestos.
As a result, the L&I cited the hotel for a dozen willful violations during the hotel remodeling, and fined the owner $355,000 for exposing workers to asbestos. The violations included:
- failing to provide respiratory protection; leaving asbestos;
- leaving asbestos debris on site;
- not taking a pre-removal air sample before removing the asbestos materials.
“It’s unconscionable that anyone would knowingly expose untrained and unprotected workers to asbestos,” says Anne Soiza, L&I’s assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “It’s an extremely hazardous material that’s notorious for causing cancer and other serious health issues.”
The owner has 15 days to appeal the citation.