King County International Airport/Boeing Field has immediately addressed issues that surfaced during a recent Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) Division of Safety and Health inspection of its maintenance building – an inspection that concluded the risk of exposure to asbestos in the employee-only facility is very low.
The inspection arose from an employee complaint concerning asbestos-containing material and was opened in Nov. 29, 2016. It centered on a boiler room and two storage areas in the maintenance rear of the building –areas that are accessed by employees only and non-accessible to the public.
The inspection found that there were deteriorated floor tiles in these areas. The risk for exposure to asbestos fibers was low because the fibers were encased in vinyl and did not present an exposure hazard. The County’s asbestos removal team immediately HEPA-vacuumed the tile debris and sealed it. By mid-December, the floor tiling in these areas was removed.
The inspector also collected dust samples from the deteriorated floor tiles and other areas. Those dust samples tested negative for asbestos, which confirms asbestos fibers in the floor tiles were not released into the air and did not present a health hazard.
Despite the low-risk exposure to asbestos fibers, the inspection did raise awareness to issues that the Airport took immediate steps to address:
- A small percentage of the boiler room’s hot water/steam piping system has asbestos-containing heat insulation material that lacked proper labeling.
- The annually required asbestos awareness training for maintenance staff was overdue, with the last training taking place in March 2015.
- Non-asbestos-related issues, including an excessive amount of wood dust in the carpenter shop, loose cellulose fiber ceiling tiles that were glued in place and the lack of an employee election records for approval of members to the safety committee were noted.
L&I’s inspection resulted in citations and fines of approximately $16,500 to King County.
The Airport took steps to immediately address these issues including providing appropriate labeling, providing updated asbestos training for staff and removing dust and ceiling tiles.
Airport Director Randall Berg also addressed maintenance staff, providing an update on the L&I inspection and emphasizing the value of a safe workplace.
“As the Airport Director, overall safety in our workplace is and always will be of paramount concern. This inspection did indeed shine a spotlight on some areas that we strengthened immediately and will help guide our approach to keeping everyone at the Airport safe,” Berg said.