According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 1.3 million people get exposed to asbestos at their workplace every day. It is a well-known fact that there is a link between asbestos and serious health ailments like mesothelioma. Workers all around the world have questions such as –
- What is asbestos?
- In which profession are you more likely to get asbestos exposure?
- What steps can be taken to protect the workers from diseases like mesothelioma?
Related Article: Top 10 Violated OSHA Standards of 2016
Here are answers to some of these important questions about asbestos exposure:
Health Risks of Asbestos in the Workplace
Asbestos is a naturally occurring, fibrous material. Asbestos is used by various industries and professions due to its durability and resistance to heat and flame. Asbestos is linked to serious health ailments and over the years, workers have developed serious health ailments such as mesothelioma.
Major health risks arise due to long term exposure to asbestos at the workplace. Most of the workers who have developed serious ailments are those who have spent decades in the industry, long before any preventive and safety measures arrived. Workers exposed to asbestos may develop ailments such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis, gastrointestinal and colorectal cancers.
High Risk Occupations
Here are some of the jobs which have the highest risk of asbestos exposure:
- Paper Mills
- Repair of cooling and heating equipment
- Brake and clutch repairs of automobiles
- Janitorial work which includes deterioration of asbestos
- Manufacturing of products which includes asbestos
Workers’ Protection Rights From Asbestos Exposure
Those who work in an environment where exposure to asbestos is high can speak to their union representative or supervisor about any possible health risks and the steps to prevent those risks. Workplace safety agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can regulate and monitor exposure of asbestos by setting the exposure limit for various industries.
If a worker’s job involves significant asbestos exposure, the employer is required to take preventive measures as per the legal norms. An employer may have to provide the following kinds of protection from asbestos exposure to their employees as per the legal obligations:
- Properly training of employees who will be working in asbestos exposed environment
- Monitoring exposure levels for employees who are involved in the removal process of asbestos containing materials
- Providing protective cloth such as foot coverings, face shields, gloves, coveralls and goggles Providing respirators
- Posting exposure precautions such as showers
- Providing medical examinations for those who are exposed to asbestos at high levels
Related Article: Asbestos Exposure: Best Practices to Avoid Hazards
Lawsuits over Asbestos at Workplace
Workers who work under high level asbestos exposure may have certain queries related to the lawsuits. They should keep in mind a few important things while dealing with asbestos exposure:
Whose Legal Responsibility Is It?
If a worker suffers from health problems due to high levels of asbestos exposure the workplace, a case can be filed against:
- The company which manufactured the asbestos or the protective equipment that didn’t work appropriately
- Owners of the place where the work is performed
- Contractors or sub-contractors involved in the work
Finding an Attorney
A worker must consult an experienced and reputed if any of the asbestos-related symptoms are visible. The attorney will take the worker through the entire process of filing a lawsuit, making the process less complicated.
It's important for workers to know their rights related to asbestos exposure in workplace, so they can lead healthier and happier lives.