Albers contractor could face criminal charges for asbestos exposure

OKAWVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A southern Illinois contractor whose companies were fined nearly $2 million for federal workplace safety violations involving asbestos exposure could face a criminal inquiry.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Joseph Kehrer of Albers, Kehrer Brothers Construction and an affiliated roofing company $1.939 million last week after finding that at least eight Mexican guest workers participating in the H-2B visa program were deprived of required safety equipment while working at an Okawville school.

OSHA spokesman Scott Allen told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the agency is considering whether to refer the case to the U.S. Justice Department “for possible criminal charges.”

OSHA alleges that Kehrer threatened to fire workers, who would then be deported, if they talked to its investigators. The companies can appeal the federal decision.