OSHA: Albers company exposed Mexican workers to asbestos

OKAWVILLE, Ill. (AP) — The top federal official for worker safety says an Albers businessman’s “outrageous behavior” of bringing in Mexican workers to remove asbestos without safety gear warrants fines of nearly $1.8 million.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration levied the fines Monday. Investigators found Joseph Kehrer, Kehrer Brothers Construction and a Kehrer-affiliated company, D7 Roofing, exposed workers to asbestos in violation of federal health standards.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels says the workers spoke no English and were threatened with firing if they spoke to investigators.

A phone message left for Kehrer seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Kehrer had workers removing asbestos-containing materials during renovation of a former school in Okawville. Breathing asbestos fibers can increase the risk of cancer.