Tunnel Workers Seek Help From NIOSH

Posted February 2, 2007 at 6:37pm

Ten Architect of the Capitol tunnel shop staffers who filed a whistle-blower complaint against the agency last year asked the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health last week to conduct a health hazard evaluation of their workplace.[IMGCAP(1)]

In the request filed by John Thayer, supervisor of the 10-member tunnel shop team, the workers claim that conditions in the Capitol’s underground utility tunnel system have caused them to develop an “Asbestos-related disease, breathing problems, pulmonary problems” and other as-yet-undiagnosed illnesses. Thayer’s filing also states that the asbestos in their workplace “not only endangers us who work in the tunnels but also poses a danger to people who work and visit on Capitol Hill, as asbestos has escaped through the grates covering tunnel entrances.”

While the AOC’s office has commissioned its own studies of the tunnels and has, at Congressional urging, redoubled its efforts to fix the system, a lawyer representing the workers said in a release Thursday that the AOC “ignored these workers’ health and safety for years … We need a health hazard evaluation from NIOSH because the Architect cannot be trusted to be truthful about issues of worker safety.”

— John McArdle