Lungs Are Us – The State Does Not Protect The HomeownerJanuary 31st, 2011 by Sharon O'Hara
Josh Farley’s, “Kitsap County fined for safety complaints made by former employee”
Struck a nerve and evoked one of my most unpleasant memories with a company based right here in Kitsap County. Protect your lungs – because if you don’t, who will?
“During inspections last fall, L&I staff said the county didn’t ensure an employee working with corrosive chemicals was wearing eye protection and that employees were not informed of the hazards of working with those chemicals….”
Interesting. Some years ago a Kitsap County company was hired by our insurance company to do some work on the lower floor of our house. I had COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and was protective of my lungs.
The final job the workers had to do was waterproof the downstairs concrete floor in what I called “The Yellow Room” and the rooms off it. It was fully enclosed without ventilation but double wood doors from the yellow room opened directly into the library and on the other side of the library a glass slider opened to the outside gardens.
Side doors off the library opened into the greenhouse along the south side of the house, another door led to an apartment made up for my parents when they visited and a door on the opposite side of the library opened into the double car garage.
The garden and hobby room doors opened from the other side of the garage and weren’t affected.
An open stairway led upstairs along the greenhouse adjoining wall into the main house from the library.
I had warned the workers to wear masks, turn on all the floor fans I had supplied and to keep ALL the doors and windows downstairs open for their safety and my own – that none of the fumes would come upstairs where I could breathe them adding to my already damaged lungs.
A company from Seattle had previously sealed the stairway from the upstairs and wore spacesuits and enclosed helmets when they had removed the damaged and old asbestos linoleum.
The KC Company didn’t bother and when I went downstairs to see how they were doing, I noted the fans were off, the sliding door to the outside was closed and they had no masks on.
The smart mouthed young man poured the liquid toxins directly on the concrete in the yellow room and the fumes filled the air. I ran to open the doors and windows and turn the fans on.
He laughed when I yelled at him and the others to put on masks and asked why he deliberately ignored what I’d told him to do and I choked, my eyes watered up and I grabbed the stair railing and pulled myself upstairs and out of the fumes.
Trouble is the fumes followed and continued to burn my eyes and throat. The only place I had to go for clean air was out on the deck.
The workers eventually finished and left. They had backed down the driveway and parked their van in front of the garage and I was outside on the front deck above the garage when they finished and left. The young man apparently in charge laughed again and joked with his co-workers as they piled into their vehicle and pulled out and up the driveway.
I called their company and spoke to the owner who assured me that safety warning about wearing masks was posted at their place of business and that he did everything the state required him to do in terms of warning his workers to protect themselves.
Nothing, he said, mentioned protecting the homeowner and there was nothing he could do about protecting his workers any more than posting the state required warning.
It was posted in plain sight for them to read.
My point is that workers can and do ignore warnings.
Unless things have drastically changed – there is no protection for the homeowner from irresponsible Rambo type foolish workers.
More later… Sharon O’Hara