Asbestos exposure is a nationally recognized health hazard and dangerous carcinogen that leads to the development of mesothelioma – an aggressive form of cancer that affects the lining of the internal organs. While steps have been taken to regulate and reduce the use of this substance, the fact is that asbestos still exists in many places where we live and work.
Unfortunately, asbestos exposure wreaked havoc on laborers throughout the country for decades, as nobody knew of the associated risks. And because mesothelioma has a latency period between 10-50 years, it took years before experts were able to uncover the risks of continual exposure. Additionally, many companies hid their use of asbestos from their employees rather than implementing procedures to protect them.
Throughout most of the 20th century, asbestos manufacturing was abundant. Many of the asbestos products were turned into building materials that still exist in buildings that we live and work in.
Those who presently work in high-risk professions are still at risk of developing mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure. Workplaces such as mechanic shops, shipyards, power plants, chemical plants, and railroads are the most common places where asbestos still lingers. While asbestos is a workplace hazard, there are things that both employers and employees can do to limit their exposure to this toxic chemical.
Asbestos Prevention in the Workplace
Starting in the 1980s, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, put strict regulations on the use of asbestos in an attempt to protect workers. There are numerous OSHA standards that employers must follow for general industry, the construction industry, and the shipyard industry. Doing so ensures that the risk of exposure is minimized for their employees.
OSHA requires that all employers test the air in their workplace. They must keep asbestos levels below 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter. OSHA also requires that they:
- Make workers aware of asbestos risks
- Monitor air and keep records
- Assess asbestos risks regularly
- Limit exposures by using proper work practices and controls
- Provide medical surveillance to workers exposed to asbestos
- Provide asbestos awareness training
- If exposure limits are exceeded, provide proper protective equipment (PPE)
While these regulations have been in place for decades, employers may not take every precaution to prevent exposure. In those cases, be sure to protect yourself and report any violations directly to OSHA.
Preventing Your Exposure to Asbestos in the Workplace
If you work near toxic asbestos, to prevent inhaling harmful asbestos fibers and developing a related illness, try the following:
- Ask if there is asbestos present at your job site
- Always wear PPE when sawing, drilling, cutting, or any time asbestos may be disturbed
- Remove contaminated clothing or shoes before returning home
- Don’t dust or vacuum potential asbestos debris with a regular vacuum cleaner. Use a wet cleaning method or a vacuum with a HEPA filter
- Dispose of asbestos materials according to state and federal regulations
Additionally, asbestos removal requires professional training. Never perform any type of removal for your employer unless you have been trained and are aware of the risks. There are professional companies that can remove asbestos if nobody at your company has been trained.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that mesothelioma doesn’t surface until 10-50 years following asbestos exposure. If you have a history of exposure, monitor your health with your doctor on a regular basis. Keeping detailed track of your medical history will give you the best shot at uncovering an asbestos-related illness as soon as possible.
Shrader Law: Getting You the Mesothelioma Help You Deserve
If you’ve developed mesothelioma as a result of working with asbestos, you may be owed compensation for the expenses related to your illness as well as the pain and suffering you’ve endured. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our office with your questions right away.
Contact our experienced team here at Shrader & Associates L.L.P. to learn more about how we can help with your case. Call us at (877) 958-7920 or fill out the online contact form to get in touch with a skilled attorney today.