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PJC’s Workplace Justice Project files health and safety complaint on behalf of asbestos workers

March 16, 2012 -- Everyone wants to feel safe at work. But for asbestos workers hired by WMS Solutions, LLC, a safe and healthy workplace isn’t a given. Under federal and state occupational health and safety laws, companies conducting asbestos abatement and removal are require to provide annual training and medical exams and all necessary personal protective equipment at no cost to the affected employee. Yet WMS Solutions and their subcontractors charged their employees for these services either by forcing them to pay out of pocket or by deducting the costs from their paychecks. Unsafe job sites, inadequate decontamination areas and improper and faulty protective equipment all added to the danger of the work. 

On March 16, the Public Justice Center's Workplace Justice Project filed a complaint with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), Region 3, on behalf of all current and former employees hired through WMS Solutions. The complaint could potentially benefit hundreds of current and former employees who worked primarily in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia. The PJC requests that OSHA conduct a thorough investigation of the employers’ current job sites and accounting and payroll records; issuance of per-employee citations; and restitution for these workers. The PJC was able to file the complaint in part because of information and referrals of affected workers provided by  the Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA Mid Atlantic Region). 
The filing coincides with the Workplace Justice Project’s support for the Asbestos Workers Protection Act, which is currently before the Maryland General Assembly. That bill would strengthen current laws that ensure the safety and health of all individuals who come into contact with construction sites where asbestos abatement and demolition is performed. The bill would 1) increase the minimum and maximum penalties for construction contractors who willfully violate state law that governs the abatement, handling and disposal of asbestos; 2) require the state or a third-party to administer the exam an asbestos worker must pass before obtaining his or her asbestos license; and 3) establish an Asbestos Worker Protection Fund to strengthen the state’s ability to thoroughly and promptly investigate complaints and impose penalties on employers who put their employees and the public at risk. Read the Baltimore Sun article about the complaint and the Asbestos Workers Protection Act here.

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