Buildings and Grounds (B&G) will expand its asbestos safety program as the result of a meeting yesterday with an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officer.
Louis DiBerardinis, industrial hygienist for University Health Services (UHS), said yesterday B&G will train all steam tunnel workers--including electricians and plumbers--to use asbestos safety equipment and to recognize the dangers of asbestos.
"The problem is it's everywhere--it's in pipes, boilers, ceilings," DiBerardinis said. He added, "We just have to make sure that what is always a potential hazard doesn't become a real one."
The previous asbestos safety policy included only workers who come into contact with asbestos daily, B&G workers said last week.
The workers said they had worked with asbestos without using proper safety equipment and without being aware of the health hazards of the fiber--both OSHA violations.
Federal legislation in 1973 banned the use of asbestos as a fireproofing agent and as insulation, William A. Deck, technical field adviser for the Environmental Protection Agency, said yesterday.
In 1978 legislation outlawed the use of asbestos as decorative tiling, he added.
William A. Lee, personal administrator for B&G, said yesterday new training will include men who do not ordinarily work in the tunnels but might be called in to work on or near the asbestos-insulated pipes.
Kevin McManus, industrial hygienist for OSHA, said yesterday an investigation into the current asbestos safety program and working conditions for steam tunnel workers started Friday.
"It's currently an open investigation--I can make no further comment," McManus said.
Asbestos, the source of two deadly lung diseases asbestosis and lung cancer--is found in other University buildings as well as in pipes, DiBerardinis said.
"It's probably in every Harvard building built before 1973," DiBerardinis said, adding, "Either it was sprayed on as a fire retardent, used as pipe insulation or as ceiling and wall tile."
Most of the pipes in the University are probably insulated with asbestos, but there is no danger until the outside covering wears out, he said.
DiBerardinis said B&G will emphasize putting asbestos garbage in labeled garbage bags and will provide workers with appropriate labels.
Four B&G workers said last week they routinely put asbestos waste in unlabeled garbage bags, violating another OSHA standard.
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