A worker alleging the existence of asbestos, mold and hygiene hazards led to an inspection of an Advance Auto Parts store in Kansas City, where OSHA found one repeated and 10 serious safety and health violations with fines of $60,000.
Flooding and mold
"Exposure to asbestos is a dangerous workplace issue that can cause loss of lung function and cancer, among other serious health effects. When Advance Auto uses an older building with presumed asbestos-containing material, such as floor tiles, it has a responsibility to conduct periodic air monitoring and must post warning signs for workers," said Barbara Theriot, OSHA's area director in Kansas City. "The company also has a responsibility to maintain the building in a sanitary and safe manner. OSHA found persistent flooding, which caused mold growth and created lower-level slip and fall hazards. This is unacceptable."
OSHA inspectors tested bulk samples of furnace room floor tiles and found they contained 3 percent chrysotile, a form of asbestos. Sample air monitoring did not detect asbestos fibers circulating in the heating and air conditioning system. However, particles could become airborne from deteriorating tiles and persistent flooding, a consistent issue throughout the building.
Asbestos: invisible and dangerous
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber used in some building materials before its health dangers were discovered. Asbestos fibers are invisible and can be inhaled into the lungs unknowingly. Inhaled fibers can then become embedded in the lungs.
Inspectors also found electrical safety violations and blocked exit routes at the store, resulting in the 10 serious violations. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.
OSHA also noted a repeated violation for failing to provide inspectors with injury and illness logs. Based in Roanoke, Virginia, Advance Auto Parts was previously cited for this violation in a Delaware, Ohio, store in 2010 and a Lakeland, Florida, store in 2011.