Amongst all industries, construction ranks near the top when it comes to hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration places construction as one of the most dangerous occupations. Not only do workers face hazards because of the equipment they use and the high working conditions, but there’s also another problem that often lurks: asbestos exposure.
Construction workers are at high risk of asbestos exposure. This unfortunate situation can lead to problematic diseases including asbestosis and mesothelioma. Not only is the risk of exposure from homes and buildings built long ago, current risks still exist that could impact a construction worker’s health.
Below, we’ll detail what occupations are at risk of asbestos exposure, as well as the products that they use that can be dangerous.
Which Occupations are at Risk?
Millions of construction workers make up the industry. Many of them have a different label—a different trade—that puts them at risk for exposure to asbestos and other hazards. The risk increases when workers use certain products, or they are responsible for the demolition of various structures.
Asbestos is commonplace in products that were prominent in the construction of buildings in the 1970s. When workers are unaware of the presence of asbestos and must demolish a structure, they break up the asbestos fibers, making them friable—when they are most dangerous.
Some occupations work in riskier environments, including the following:
- Drywall workers
- Bricklayers and masonry workers
- Bulldozer operators
- Wrecking crews
- Insulation installers
Bulldozer and wrecking crews are prevalent in demolition sites, meaning they are at serious risk of exposure. Similarly, insulation installers, plumbers, and pipefitters work with products such as insulation, which contains asbestos. Any small mistakes can lead to exposure because of broken up fibers.
Drywall is one of the potential products that can contain asbestos fibers. When a worker is responsible for installing drywall, they may need to cut it to fit the size and fasten the piece to the structure. During this task, it’s easy to break the asbestos fibers and release them into the air.
It’s when the fibers are in this state that inhalation allows asbestos to line your lungs and cause severe problems.
Bricklayers and Masonry Workers
While many regulations work to limit what material companies can use when manufacturing products, many bricks, stones, and blocks of the past contain asbestos. The companies that once mixed the compound used raw asbestos because of its high heat tolerance. When scraping bricks or cutting them to fit a specific job, people who work with these products can be in danger of asbestos exposure.
Roofers use shingles, tiles, and other materials that contain asbestos fibers. Roofers may need to remove old materials with a significant amount of these fibers and use new shingles or tiles. Whenever roofers need to cut or remove these roofing materials, it can send asbestos fibers into the air, affecting anyone nearby.
Which Products are Dangerous?
First, you should know why many companies and manufacturers rely on asbestos—or why they once did. Asbestos is something that has a high heat tolerance, so many companies put the material in their products to help with fireproofing.
Flooring, insulation, roofing, and countless other materials of the past contain significant amounts of asbestos. As helpful as many companies feel this material is, the impact it has once it is friable far outweighs any of the benefits asbestos has for the structure itself.
Some of the most dangerous products for asbestos exposure include:
- Insulation – Even spray-on insulation can contain a significant amount of asbestos.
- Duct tape – Once had up to 45% of asbestos within its materials.
- Siding – Home siding can contain asbestos as a fireproofing method.
- Textured paints – While the amount of asbestos in this product is minimal, it can still be dangerous.
Many people mistakenly think that laws and federal regulations prohibit companies from using any amount of asbestos in the manufacturing of their products. However, the laws state that companies can use asbestos so long as they follow the government guidelines pertaining to its use.
Many materials that you see in common areas—homes, schools, buildings, and more—contain products where asbestos is prominent. Any cut, scrape, or break that causes these materials to separate can release asbestos particles, putting homeowners and construction workers in harm’s way.
Do Construction Workers Have Rights?
Many individuals who suffer from mesothelioma wonder what legal rights they have upon diagnosis, or if the disease results in death. For construction workers, there are various things you must prove that allows you to take legal action against someone who may be responsible for your harm.
- Did your employer or supervisor know that asbestos was present? Showing that your employer or supervisor knew of the potential dangers can help position your case favorably.
- Were you provided safety equipment? With the asbestos present, your employer or supervisor should have provided you with safety equipment to limit or remove the risk of exposure.
- Did the asbestos exposure result in your condition? Asbestos exposure most often results in mesothelioma or asbestosis. Trying to claim a different condition may not allow you to file a claim following asbestos exposure.
In many cases, your employer or supervisor holds responsibility for your safety. They must ensure all precautions go into any plan when it comes to the construction industry. If you’re part of demolishing a building where asbestos may be present, you must receive safety equipment that helps protect you from inhalation.
Your employer or supervisor must do all they can to prevent your harm. If they don’t intervene and you develop mesothelioma, the company for which you worked may be liable. Keep in mind, though, that mesothelioma has a long latency period—anywhere from 10 to 40 years. You may not know you have this condition until long after you began working in the industry.
At Shrader & Associates, L.L.P., we make it our mission to protect your rights after a mesothelioma diagnosis. If you lose a loved one to this devastating disease, you and your family have the right to move forward with legal matters. However, there’s a time limit regarding how long you have to file a claim. Time is of the essence and you must work quickly to protect your rights.
Our mesothelioma lawyers want to help you understand the most effective ways to safeguard your best interests and your right to compensation. We’ll investigate what led to yours or your loved one’s asbestos exposure and work to hold the responsible party accountable.
When it comes to the care and support you need, we stand ready to be your trusted advocates through the complicated legal process. We’ll go above and beyond to put you and your family first and pursue the maximum financial compensation you and your family need to move forward.
Call us today to schedule to speak with a member of our team about your rights and options: (713) 787-3733. We’ll be here when you need us most and focus on your goals every step of the way.