Contractor is Unknowingly Exposed to Toxic Materials


Workplace Safety Expert WitnessThis case takes place in Texas and involves an individual who owned/operated a small industrial cleaning business. The individual and his company were hired by a large company to provide cleaning services to some of its facilities involved in the production of asphalt. In particular, the man’s company was frequently tasked with cleaning components that were involved in the handling or storage of raw materials, despite their lack of experience or familiarity with the materials involved. The man and his team were tasked with cleaning a wide range of items and areas with contamination from these raw materials, however they were never informed of the hazards associated with exposure to the toxins that were present. No protective gear was provided by the hiring company, nor were recommendations made for its use. Eventually, the man was diagnosed with acute silicosis, which proved fatal.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please explain your familiarity with these toxins.
  • 2. Have you ever created workplace safety policies pertaining to the risks associated with exposure to these materials?
  • 3. Have you ever published / lectured on this subject?
  • 4. What safety measures must be taken to ensure adequate precautions are taken by vendors who may be exposed to such toxins?

Expert Witness Response E-030534

Materials containing toxic compounds are used as a supplementary material in concrete and asphalt. I’ve done air sampling for these metals along with Silica at facilities that use these materials. I have not created safety policies specific to this material. I have written policies regarding the recognition, evaluation and control of worker health hazards. As with any health hazard, it should have first been evaluated to see if there was a potential exposure to employees and vendors. The evaluation may include personal air sampling. If the exposure was found to be near occupational exposure limits, engineering and administrative controls should have been implemented to lower exposure. These should be supplemented with personal protective equipment, safety procedures, and training.

Expert Witness Response E-006754

I have extensive knowledge of exposure to this material from directing safety and health programs for Fortune 100 companies and directing the Federal OSHA Consultation program in PA for numerous years. I have created workplace safety policies that pertain to the risks associated with exposure to this material and others. Safety measures to ensure adequate precautions are taken by vendors include but are not limited to; industrial hygiene sampling to determine toxin content and actual hazard exposures involving silica, inorganic arsenic etc.; specialized training on potential hazard exposure and avoidance; posting and demarcation of work areas; engineering work practice and personal protective equipment controls, including ventilation of work area, respiratory protection and worker medical surveillance.

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