State inspectors monitor effects of airport construction dust on workers’ health

Local News

Workers at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport say dust from construction is causing a health hazard, and we’ve learned some people have gone to the hospital because of it.

Now the Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division (HIOSH) is involved.

The areas most affected are lobbies 7 and 8 at the second-level departure area.

Some workers tell us the dust has been so bad, they made several complaints to the state.

By Delta Airlines, you can’t miss the layer of white dust on the floor, desks, and other objects.

“When the bus comes by, the dust just flies all over and we can’t breath or whatnot,” said a worker who wanted to remain anonymous.

Workers say wind has also made the situation worse.

“Every time the wind blows, the dirt gets blown into the airport and it’s in the air, so unless you have a mask, you’re just breathing all that stuff in and it’s concrete and construction debris,” said Justin Kaneshiro with H.I.S. travel agency.

DOT says construction crews are repaving the road, and to do that, they need remove the old driving surface, which is causing all the dust.

“It’s really bad. This is a health hazard. It’s bad for everyone who works here,” Kaneshiro said.

“It’s almost been two weeks and I have been coughing, sore throat, spitting up mucus, running nose, so it’s really bad,” said Leslie Sadora, who works at the airport.

“I already know one guy going down to the hospital right now, so we can’t get more of those things,” said the anonymous worker.

On Thursday, we noticed some employees were wearing masks, and saw state inspectors at the scene, checking monitors they placed on certain employees.

We asked the state how many complaints it received, when inspections started, and if the dust was dangerous. We were told a case has been opened, but the department can’t say anything more about the investigation.

The Department of Transportation says the contractor has been sweeping and spraying water on the surface to control the dust.

So is it working?

“It is drastically better than it was when they started it, so I would say it is working to an extent, but it’s not a fix to a problem,” Kaneshiro said.

In a statement, DOT said: “The product being used is new to the airport and the contractor, Nan, Inc., and the levels of dust experienced during this phase of roadway work which began on June 26 were not anticipated.”

Officials say the road work is expected to last for one more week.

We reached out to Nan Inc. and a spokesman says this particular project has posed unique challenges and it has shifted more work to nighttime.

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