Over this past summer and fall WisCOSH has received a number of phone calls concerning work being done as part of the KK River Project. WisCOSH has made several attempts to find work being done but until this week had not come upon an “active worksite” – meaning that work was taking place at the time of visitation. What WisCOSH investigators found is quite alarming.
Upon arriving on the scene it was immediately noted that workers were being exposed to numerous safety hazards: work performed at height without personal fall protection, workers not wearing head protection while working below other workers, workers leaning out of windows working on the outside of the building without fall protection or head protection, ladders improperly set up and unsecured and more. WisCOSH attempted to engage workers and find out more about their working conditions, training and supervision. The workers refused to verbally answer. Pictures and video were taken to document the actions taking place.
While surveying the worksite and the work being done it was noticed that the dumpster onsite was labeled as to be used for disposing hazardous materials – asbestos – and the investigators became alarmed. The materials the workers were ripping off the side of the building were not being handled appropriately if they were in fact asbestos and it was readily apparent that the building was not being lead abated either.
After one investigator asked a worker about the work being done, the manner in which it was being done, their training and qualifications to perform the work, if there was a supervisor or crew leader present and who their employer was the investigator was attacked – a large piece of siding was purposely thrown at the investigator and smashed on the sidewalk in a huge cloud of dust. There was a work truck onsite but it had no owner or business name on it, phone number, business address or DOT number. WisCOSH attempted to look-up the name on the vehicle but got not results for any current business.
WisCOSH continued it’s investigation by attempting to contact someone in City, County, State or Federal agencies to get more information concerning the work currently being done, scheduled upcoming work and locations, employer/contractor, what permits were pulled and when, etc. The Milwaukee OSHA Office was notified of the imminent danger to the workers and responded that they would try to get someone there. The WI DNR was also contacted. Attempts were made to talk with someone from the City of Milwaukee as well as Milwaukee County with no positive outcomes.
WisCOSH continued it’s investigation by securing, bagging, labeling and documenting samples from the worksite. WisCOSH investigators also spoke with several residents of the neighborhood that told investigators of several other similar “active” worksites which WisCOSH then visited and secured samples from. WisCOSH will be taking in the first sample for analysis this afternoon.