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OSHA: Workers renovating firehouse exposed to asbestos

A Chicago real estate and management company is facing more than $40,000 in fines after workers renovating a historic firehouse in the River North neighborhood were exposed to asbestos.

An OSHA investigation found employees of Structure Development Midwest were exposed to asbestos and electrical hazards while renovating a firehouse at 228 W. Illinois, according to a statement from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

An inspection on March 25 found the company failed to collect and dispose of asbestos-containing material in sealed, labeled and waterproof bags, according to OSHA.

The company was cited for one willful and seven serious violations, according to the statement. The proposed penalties total $46,000.

“Exposure to asbestos can cause loss of lung function and cancer, among other serious health effects, and workers must be trained in procedures that minimize exposure,” OSHA’s area director Kathy Webb said in a statement.

“Workers should never be put at risk because a company failed to protect them from a known, dangerous substance,” she said.