Asbestos on the Job
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified more than 75 job fields where workers are exposed to asbestos. OSHA did not begin regulating asbestos until 1971. While efforts were made to dramatically reduce the amount of asbestos considered ‘permissible’ through the 1980s and 1990s, exposure is still possible.
Is Asbestos Still a Risk?
Even though asbestos is regulated, it is not banned in the United States. This means that there is still a presence in workplaces. Asbestos fibers can be so small, no one can see them. People can breathe in the fibers, which will then scar the lungs. Studies have shown that there is no amount of asbestos that can be considered ‘safe.’
The top five occupations most at-risk for exposure are:
- Firefighters. Fire quickly incinerates asbestos products, making them airborne particulates. Hundreds to possibly thousands of 9/11 first responders are to this day suffering from illnesses caused by inhaling asbestos products when the World Trade Center towers fell.
- Construction Workers. Demolition crews tearing apart old buildings are at risk for exposure. Roofing and flooring materials are still made with asbestos. If you roof homes or help build new houses, you can be at-risk.
- Industrial/Textile Workers. Specifically foremen, chemical workers, machine operators, and similar trade workers can be exposed to asbestos.
- Power Plant Workers, who handle asbestos products every day as a matter of their regular work days. Acoustic plaster, hot tops, and mastic are but a few dangerous items they come in contact with on a regular basis.
- Shipyard Workers. Almost 30% of mesothelioma lawsuits are filed by veterans and shipyard employees who all had to work around asbestos.
Can I Keep Myself Safe?
As stated earlier, there is no ‘safe’ amount of asbestos. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommendations for people to be safer around it. There are education programs, safety equipment your company should get for you, and other ways you can reduce your risk on your own.
OSHA has minimum standards for the construction industry, general industry, and shipyard employment. Any level of exposure can lead to disease from asbestos. In some cases when the legal limits of exposure are exceeded, OSHA requires companies to provide medical monitoring of their employees.
What Should I Do if I am at Risk?
Different occupations have different levels of risk associated with them. If you or other people you work with are coming down with mesothelioma or other diseases, you do not have to face that problem alone.
The length of exposure, the duties of your job, and other factors must be considered. Michael Throneberry has personal experience in handling asbestos claims. He and his law firm are ready to help you. Call them today because you should not be at risk of dying just because you want to work.