Personal Injury Lawyer | Asbestos in the Workplace
Personal Injury Lawyer . Every day as many as 1.3 million people in the U.S. go to a workplace where they’re exposed to significant amounts of asbestos, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). For decades, the link between asbestos and serious health problems like mesothelioma has been well-established. But many employees have more questions than they do answers concerning asbestos. What is asbestos? In which occupations are you most likely to encounter significant levels of asbestos? What steps can be taken to protect employees from mesothelioma and other health problems linked to asbestos exposure? Here are some answers.
Asbestos in the Workplace: Health Risks
Asbestos is a naturally occurring, fibrous material. In part because of its durability and resistance to heat and flame, asbestos has been utilized in dozens of industries and occupations for decades. But, long before its popularity in industry peaked, asbestos became linked to health problems. And, over the years, thousands of workers have developed a deadly asbestos-related disease called mesothelioma.
The dangers of asbestos have been clear for decades now. Everyone breathes in trace amounts of asbestos each day, since it occurs naturally in the environment. But, because asbestos fibers can be inhaled, even short-term exposure to significant levels of asbestos on the job can lead to breathing problems, coughing, and shortness of breath. Asbestos has been classified as a carcinogen (cancer-causing) substance. So the most serious health risks come from long-term exposure to asbestos on the job — especially for older people who may have spent decades in the workplace before the advent of safety measures that help protect employees from most asbestos exposure in the modern workplace.
Serious health problems related to asbestos exposure include:
colorectal and gastrointestinal cancers, and
abnormalities in the lining of the chest cavity.
Jobs That Have a Higher Risk of Asbestos Exposure
Even now, decades after the beginning of health concerns about asbestos and the rise in deadly asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos is still quite common in some lines of work. Here’s a list of occupations and industries that have traditionally seen workers exposed to significant levels of asbestos:
construction, renovation, and demolition of commercial and residential buildings
heating and cooling equipment repair
automotive repair (especially brake and clutch repair)
manufacture of products containing asbestos
janitorial jobs in buildings that contain deteriorating asbestos.
Employees’ Rights to Protection From Asbestos Exposure
If you work around asbestos as part of your job talk to your supervisor or union about any health risks and the steps that are being taken to minimize those risks.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other workplace safety agencies are supposed to carefully regulate and monitor asbestos exposure on the job. So chances are, if your job does involve exposure to significant levels of asbestos, your employer is legally required to take certain steps to protect you. If you feel they are not taking these necessary steps, contact a personal injury lawyer.
Depending on the industry you work in and the specifics of your job, you may be legally entitled to receive the following kinds of on-the-job protections from asbestos exposure:
training of employees who will be working with and around asbestos
properly ventilated workspaces
monitoring of employees for asbestos exposure levels
warning signs and instructions in areas where asbestos-related work is performed
protective clothing like coveralls, gloves, foot coverings, face shields, and goggles
protective equipment like respirators
showers and other post-exposure precautions, and
medical examinations for certain workers who are exposed to high levels of asbestos.
Lawsuits Over Asbestos in the Workplace
If your employment history (or your current job) involves working with or around significant amounts of asbestos, you may have questions about lawsuits over asbestos exposure. Seek to find a personal injury lawyer who can explain your rights. If so, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Who is legally responsible? Generally speaking, if an employee suffers from health problems that are caused by asbestos in the workplace, a lawsuit would be filed against some or all of the following:
The company that manufactured the asbestos or any protective equipment that failed to work properly
Owners of the premises where the work was being performed
Contractors and sub-contractors involved in the work being performed.
In some cases, an asbestos victim compensation fund might already be in place, which may streamline the financial recovery process in an asbestos-related lawsuit. Learn more about these kinds of cases from a personal injury lawyer.
Finding a personal injury lawyer. If you think you might have developed some type of asbestos-related illness or are concerned because you’ve been exposed to asbestos on the job, you may want to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer. At the very least, you may be entitled to health monitoring and testing, which can mean valuable early detection of any asbestos-related health problems.
Remember that mesothelioma and health problems linked to asbestos exposure can take years to show up. Even if it’s been a decade or more since you worked with or around asbestos, you may not be out of the woods yet when it comes to potential health problems. – NOLO.com
Since 1989, the personal injury lawyers of Clekis Law Firm have been representing injured people and their families in Charleston and throughout the Low Country. At the Clekis Law Firm our clients always come first. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious personal injury due to the negligence of another, don’t be victimized twice. You need someone on your side to help you with your personal injury case and obtain the fair and reasonable compensation that you deserve. Call Clekis at 843.779.1160!