For those of you who have been following the Robert Knapp/Equitable Building saga in Des Moines, it appears to have finally come to an end.
By way of background, Mr. Knapp was accused of violating the Clean Air Act and a number of OSHA regulations when he had employees remove asbestos without wearing appropriate protective equipment. Mr. Knapp agreed to pay of $500,000.00 fine for regulatory violations.
Mr. Knapp also pled guilty to criminal charges relating to the asbestos removal. The court recently sentenced Mr. Knapp to 41 months in prison for conspiring to violate the Clean Air Act. The EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance considered Mr. Knapp’s disregard of worker health and safety from the risk of asbestos to be inexcusable. According to testimony during the sentencing proceedings, Mr. Knapp oversaw the project while materials containing asbestos were removed from the building and disposed of in an uncovered dumpster and that employees performing the work were not provided with personal protective equipment to reduce exposure to asbestos.
In addition to his 41 month prison sentence, Knapp received two years of supervised probation, 300 hours of community service and must pay an additional fine of $12,500.00.
While this is an egregious situation, it certainly demonstrates that the EPA and state regulatory bodies take asbestos exposure seriously. And, this should serve as a reminder that OSHA is beefing up its presence on the work site, so be prepared with your training and documentation.
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