Construction Company Fined for Allegedly Importing Workers to Remove Asbestos
The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proceedings against Kehrer Brothers Construction have been put on hold now that federal officials are looking into possibly pressing criminal charges against the company. The investigation is being handled by both the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and federal prosecutors.
The Illinois-based company was fined $1.8 million last year after an OSHA investigation revealed that they allegedly had workers remove asbestos from a former Okawville, IL school without providing proper safety gear. According to OSHA, Kehrer Brothers Construction hired many of their workers from Mexico through a special visa program that allowed them to temporarily work in the United States. David Michaels, the Assistant Secretary of Labor said that the company threatened to fire workers who spoke with investigators, and added that:
“This case stands out because of the outrageous behavior of Joseph Kehrer. [The workers] spoke no English. He drove them to jobs. He set up a housing camp for them. They were at his mercy.”
According to Michaels, at least eight of the workers were exposed to asbestos while removing insulation, floor tiles, and various other materials from the worksite. Exposure to asbestos has been proven to cause mesothelioma, an aggressive type of cancer with no known cure. It can take anywhere from 20 to 50 years to develop after asbestos exposure, and typically develops around the lungs, but can also affect the abdomen, heart, and testicles.
Kehrer Brothers Construction is contesting the allegations. Their attorney, Clyde Kuehn, stated that:
“The reason these citations are being contested is that there are some very significant disagreements on the facts of this case. OSHA’s position on the facts is much different from Mr. Kehrer’s position. We’re trying to work toward having an opportunity to lay that out.”
Mesothelioma is typically diagnosed during later stages of development once the most serious symptoms, like severe chest pain, sudden weight loss, and serious respiratory complications develop. The mesothelioma attorneys at Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC have dedicated their careers to protecting the rights of people who have developed this debilitating disease. If you were exposed to asbestos or developed mesothelioma, contact us today by filling out the form on our website for a free review of your legal options and rights, or call us at (888) 367-7160 to speak with one of our mesothelioma lawyers.