Healthy Building Initiative: Asbestos Regulations Strictly Enforced in Massachusetts

8/7/2017

As part of the Massachusetts' Attorney General's "Healthy Building, Healthy Air" initiative, asbestos abatement contractors and environmental consultants are facing stiff penalties for lax safety procedures. Since March 2017, Attorney General Maura Healy has spearheaded a program to increase awareness of the health risks posed by asbestos. Directed at the children, families, and workers in the contracting and abatement industries, the multifaceted plan directs state agencies and cities to strictly enforce regulations governing any dangerous and noncompliant asbestos work by contractors and property owners. Since its inception, the Commonwealth has assessed $650,000 in penalties.

In connection with the Attorney General's increased enforcement, two local contractors and an environmental consultant will pay $180,000 because they engaged in illegal asbestos remediation at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. As part of the Attorney General's increased enforcement and oversight of asbestos remediation projects, Callahan, Inc., a contracting company; J. Kerrissey, Inc., a demolition company; and Axiom Partners, an environmental consultant, were sued in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston, MA, by the Attorney General. Healy claims that the J. Kerrissey, Inc., violated the Massachusetts clean air law when it demolished 45,000 square feet of asbestos-containing ceiling plaster without minimizing asbestos exposure to workers and the surrounding community by sealing the area or using proper protective equipment. Callahan and Axiom are also alleged to be responsible, because they supervised and directed the project.

The demolition of the building allegedly caused visibly dusty conditions when workers threw materials out of a second floor window into an open dumpster. The South Shore YMCA is in downtown Quincy, near a high school and beside the new YMCA building, which houses children and staff.

Companies and workers must be well informed about federal and state regulatory requirements to ensure that they complete asbestos abatement projects in a safe and legally-mandated manner. Moreover, it is essential that workers follow all of the required steps and contemporaneously document their compliance so that the asbestos abatement is performed in a safe and proper manner and companies can provide accurate information if compliance is questioned in the future. With these actions - knowledge, compliance, and documentation - asbestos remediation work can be performed safely.

Governo Law Firm has represented clients in environmental and toxic tort regulatory and civil claims for three decades. We regularly lecture and publish topical articles relating to the restoration and remediation industry. In addition, we follow the scientific, medical, and legal developments in environmental and toxic tort claims, including asbestos, lead, mold, and chemical exposure. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact David Governo at dgoverno@governo.com or Vincent DePalo at vdepalo@governo.com.