Capitol Workers to Receive Asbestos Whistleblower Award
Ten Capitol Hill employees who worked as pipefitters/steamfitters will be honored for alerting officials to asbestos exposure that was not being properly handled by their managers.
The award comes in the midst of a dispute with the Architect of the Capitol’s office over their treatment for exposure and a pending case before the Office of Compliance over alleged retaliation.
Each will receive the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage which
since 1990 has awarded people who “take a public stance to advance
truth at personal risk.” The awards are sponsored by the Shafeek
Nader Trust for the Community Interest named after the eldest brother
of longtime political figure Ralph Nader.
The workers complained publicly after the Office of Compliance cited inaction by the architect office towards asbestos levels inside tunnels which workers claim began affecting their health.
The workers were frustrated with a lack of progress and began seeking senate support to obtain compensation for medical expenses and health consultations. Sen. Dick Durban, D-Ill. agreed to help them and submitted a request to the Architect’s Office.
While they agreed to finance the worker’s health expenses, they
refused allow them to see specialists that they had requested. After testing
3 of the workers had X-Ray anomalies consistent with scarring in the lungs.
Once the had finished their medical evaluations, they claimed their work environment had drastically changed. Supplies they needed for their job (in which temperatures can reach 130F) were restricted and their jobs were threatened.
Citing the ongoing investigations, neither side would comment further
however it is ironic that the nation’s most dangerous environment
may lie right before its own capitol.