Dover Greens, formerly known as Olivet Management, has settled with the U.S. Department of Labor over serious charges and penalties and is ready to restart work. The company was renovating buildings at the Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center in Dover, New York for future use by Olivet University, in March 2014, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a stop-work order for disturbing asbestos and putting workers and residents at risk.
In March 2014 the company was cited for exposing its own employees, as well as employees for 13 contractors, to asbestos and lead hazards during cleanup operations. Dover Greens, Olivet at the time, was cited for 45 willful violations and one serious violation leading to $2,352,000 in proposed fines. Half of the citations address specific instances of exposure of workers to asbestos and lead hazards.
According to a March 29 article in the Poughkeepsie Journal, Dover Greens entered an agreement with the Department of Labor reducing the payment to $700,000. The company also agreed to ramp up their safety measures, to use only asbestos-certified contractors, and that they will not oppose any worker’s compensation claim brought for illness resulting from previous asbestos or lead exposure at the worksite.
According to a March 28 press release from Dover Greens, the $700,000 is “an investment to ensure future worker safety, including health and environmental awareness, for the restoration of the former State-owned facility.”
Asbestos is so toxic even small amounts of the mineral and infrequent exposure can cause asbestos-related diseases including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. The EPA has warned that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Asbestos is still all around us in many products in older buildings, and people continue to be exposed to asbestos when asbestos-containing materials are disturbed during renovation or demolition activities.
Asbestos removal, when done properly, is performed by certified asbestos abatement contractors who follow strict local, state and federal guidelines. When procedures, including having workers wear protective gear, are followed health hazards are minimal.
The Poughkeepsie Journal reports Terence Michos, a spokesman for Dover Greens, called the settlement “a fresh beginning to move quickly ahead with our plans and help stimulate economic energy into the Harlem Valley … Thankfully, we see no further obstacles to unlocking the potential of this project for the entire Dover community.”
“Dover Greens will remain committed to the workers’ safety and health as the project progresses,” reported the company.
See details of the final settlement from the Department of Labor.
Photo Credit: Dover Greens