Federal agency owes workers clear answers

Published 9:45 am Thursday, August 4, 2011

Much like the mold itself, the battle over the potential health hazard at the Ironton Social Security office continued to grow for more than two years.

Finally, the Social Security Administration and the General Services Administration, the agency that acts as the federal government’s real estate manager for the SSA, has decided to join the common sense party and acknowledge that a very real potential health hazard exists by keeping the office at 405 S. Third St. open despite the fact that black mold permeates a number of walls in the facility.

But these agencies shouldn’t be off the hook.

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In fact, the decision now to close the facility after more than two years of workers and union leadership filing grievances and Worker’s Compensation claims raises many concerning questions.

What caused the 180 degree turn around? If the mold doesn’t pose a health hazard, as the government agencies have claimed numerous times, why make this change now? What long-term ramifications will having worked in this environment have on the employees? Has limited exposure to mold, such as what the general public would have faced when visiting the office, posed a health risk?

Although the government agency will contend that this latest move is simply erring on the side of caution, the big question remains: Why did didn’t they “err” sooner?

After all this is “air” we are talking about, something that shouldn’t be looked at as optional or a luxury.