State probes asbestos complaints at historic Read House hotel in downtown Chattanooga

State probes asbestos complaints at historic Read House hotel in downtown Chattanooga

October 12th, 2017 by Staff Report in Business Around the Region

The historic Read House hotel, left, is located on MLK Boulevard in between Broad and Chestnut Streets in downtown Chattanooga.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

State regulators are investigating employee complaints about exposure to asbestos at the Read House hotel in downtown Chattanooga.

The Tennessee Occupational Safety & Health Administration (TOSHA) launched an on-site probe last week after an employee at the historic hotel complained on Aug. 17 that repairs and upgrades at the hotel were releasing asbestos into the air.

Asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma cancer and is banned in more than 50 countries.

Chris Canon, director of communications for the Tennessee Department of Labor, said TOSHA began an on-site inspection of the asbestos complaint last week and expects to probe the hotel for six to eight weeks in response to the problem.

"TOSHA responds to all employee complaints to determine the validity of the allegations made in the complaint," Cannon said. "It can take anywhere from six to eight weeks to complete a workplace investigation."

Cannon said his agency typically investigates several asbestos cases each year, but it is not one of the more common types of investigations the agency performs.

The 241-room Read House hotel at Broad Street and M.L. King Boulevard was purchased last year by Avocet Hospitality Group, which plans to renovate and upgrade the 10-story hotel. The Starbucks Coffee shop already has been revamped.