Maryland lawmakers have quintupled the maximum fine for violators of environmental laws concerning asbestos removal. The previous $5,000 maximum will be raised to $25,000 on October 1, 2012. The increase of the maximum fine, and other changes aimed at increasing worker safety, follow the release of a report in November 2011 by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Organizing Coalition (MAROC) of the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) which revealed that illegal work practices were being committed by numerous asbestos abatement contractors in the region.
Vice President of LIUNA, Dennis Martire, stated, "In an effort to undercut our signatory contractors who adhere to all federal asbestos abatements regulations – and in complete disregard for the health of their own employees – these businesses engaged in shoddy and illegal work practices." Mr. Matire also stated, "With its steeper penalties, this new law levels the playing field and discourages this despicable behavior."
Scott Schneider, Director of Occupational Safety and Health at the Laborers' Health and Safety Fund of North America, applauded Maryland's new law. "While it has been years since asbestos was used in construction, many older buildings still contain it. Asbestos continues to be a potential threat to anyone who has a job in demolition or remodeling….My hope is that other states will follow Maryland's lead and pass their own asbestos worker protection laws."
1. Clark, S. Asbestos Abatement Toxic in Mid-Atlantic Region. (2011, Dec.). Vol. 8, Num. 7. Retrieved from http://www.lhsfna.org/index.cfm?objectID=C7C0665F-D56F-E6FA-971B6177B8735D98
2. Rathner, J. Maryland Leads Nation with Asbestos Worker Protection Law. (2012, June). Vol. 9, Num. 1. Retrieved from http://www.lhsfna.org/index.cfm?objectID=74A3E21C-D56F-E6FA-9A1B3F8AD2F61CCF