Airport workers threaten OSHA complaint over construction dust issues

Airport workers threaten OSHA complaint over construction dust issues
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Aaron Bohlen checks in passengers curbside at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. Now, he's trying to take care of his health.

He, along with many other airport employees, say they've taken to wearing masks to cover their noses and mouths – a drastic measure, in order to combat the construction dust that's taken over part of the terminal.

"Every time a car drives by, every time a bus drives by, it just kicks up clouds of this cement dust," he said. "We're breathing it in. It's in our faces all day long."

At night, a contractor is making repairs on the road that fronts the overseas terminal on the airport's departure level. The dust is from the concrete that's being scraped off the surface.

During the day, according to airport porter Kimo Pennington, that dust blows everywhere.

"It's hard to breathe sometimes," he says.

Joan Kasuga says she spends much of her time wiping down the desk in her Kintetsu International booth. She understands the need to fix the street, but thinks the state and the contractor need to ensure something's being done to keep the dust down.

"I'm coughing right now. The dust gets into your eyes. It's really bad," she says.

"There's just layers of dust everywhere," Bohlen said. "If you look out into the lobby, its everywhere. It's on everything."

State transportation department spokesman Tim Sakahara told Hawaii News Now on Wednesday that the contractor doing the work will increase measures to control the dust by spraying water and vacuuming up debris.

"The contractor has also been sending in crews daily to clean the terminal. Airport custodial staff have also been diligently working to help address the dust within the terminal," he said.

Bohlen said some airport workers are so fed up and worried about inhaling the dust that they may complain to the state's Occupational Safety and Health office.

"The construction guys, when they do their work, they got protective gear and stuff. We don't have any of that stuff. It's like working in a construction zone without any of the gear you're supposed to have," Bohlen said.

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