OSHAThe Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island – which hosts the home rink for the New York Islanders hockey team – has exposed its workers to asbestos, electrical and chemical hazards, according to OSHA.

The company which manages the day-to-day operations of the coliseum, SMG @ Nassau Coliseum LLC, doing business as SMG, has been issued 16 alleged serious violations of workplace health and safety standards and faces a total of $88,000 in proposed.

OSHA's Long Island Area Office opened an inspection in response to an employee complaint. Investigators found that maintenance workers and electricians were exposed to asbestos or materials potentially containing asbestos while working in various locations – including the coliseum's ice plant, catwalks and a loading dock – and that SMG did not take adequate steps to address the hazards. These conditions occurred in areas not accessible to the general public.

Specifically, SMG did not identify the presence, location and quantity of materials containing or potentially containing asbestos, use engineering controls and work practices to reduce exposure levels, ensure that all Class III asbestos work (such as repair and maintenance operations where materials presumed to contain asbestos are disturbed) was conducted in regulated areas, ensure proper respirator use, post warning signs and provide asbestos awareness training for workers.

"Inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to lung disease and cancer. That's why it is imperative that this employer take effective action to identify and minimize asbestos hazards and ensure that workers are protected against exposure," said Anthony Ciuffo, OSHA's Long Island area director.

In addition, OSHA found inadequately lighted exit routes, inoperable emergency lighting, lights not guarded against damage, defective forklifts, unsecured liquefied petroleum gas containers, electrical circuits not locked out and unguarded open-sided floors. The company also failed to provide workers with bloodborne pathogen and chemical hazard communication training. Finally, the company failed to develop procedures and provide hardware to lock out power sources to prevent the unintended activation of machinery.

Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring minerals that are resistant to heat and corrosion. Asbestos has been used as insulation for pipes, floor tiles and building materials, and in vehicle brakes and clutches. Breathing asbestos fibers can cause a buildup of scar-like tissue in the lungs called asbestosis, which can result in a loss of lung function that often progresses to disability or death. Asbestos also causes lung cancer and other diseases such as mesothelioma of the pleura, which is a fatal malignant tumor of the membrane that lines the cavity of the lung or stomach. Detailed information on asbestos hazards and safeguards, including an asbestos self-inspection checklist, is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/asbestos/index.html.