Understanding OSHA’s Asbestos Standards and Regulations for Workplaces

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was widely used many years ago due to its strength and ability to resist heat and corrosion in many industries, including construction, automotive, shipbuilding, manufacturing, and textiles. Despite its attractive qualities, asbestos is a dangerous mineral. Asbestos exposure can cause cancer and other serious illnesses. While asbestos exposure can occur anywhere, the most common type of asbestos exposure occurs in occupational settings.

The dangers of asbestos have long been recognized, leading regulatory bodies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to implement strict measures to keep employees safe from developing asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma. Unfortunately, some employers don’t follow safety guidelines, putting employees at risk. Below, we discuss OSHA’s asbestos standards and regulations for workplaces, workers’ rights, and what recourse is available for affected workers.

OSHA Asbestos Standards and Regulations for Workplaces

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforces comprehensive standards aimed at mitigating asbestos exposure in various workplaces, including shipyards, auto repair shops, and construction sites. The following are some of OSHA’s worksite protections;

  • Assessment and monitoring: OSHA requires employers to evaluate potential asbestos exposure risks within the workplace. If an employee’s work will result in asbestos fibers becoming airborne, an employer must routinely monitor the workplace to ensure adherence to permissible exposure limits.
  • Exposure limits: OSHA sets stringent limits on the amount of asbestos fibers that can be in the air. According to OSHA, for every cubic centimeter of air a worker breathes at work, there should not be more than 0.1 asbestos fiber on average over an 8-hour workday. The maximum amount of asbestos a worker can breathe in a short time without being harmed, also called the excursion limit (EL), is less than 1 fiber per cubic centimeter over 30 minutes.
  • Communication and PPE: Employers are required to inform employees of the presence of asbestos in the workplace and provide them with personal protective equipment. This helps reduce the risk of exposure.
  • Safe break areas: If employees work with asbestos, OSHA requires employers to provide separate and safe break areas for employees.

Employees’ Rights

Employees are entitled to a safe workplace that does not put their well-being at risk. In addition to this, employees have the right to;

  • Proper PPE
  • Access hazard measurement records and records pertaining to job-related injuries and illnesses
  • Receive regular training and information
  • Request OSHA to inspect the workplace and identify safety hazards

Recourse Available for Affected Employees

If an employee has a health-related concern, or if their workplace is unsafe, they file a complaint with OSHA. Below is how an employee can file a complaint;

  • Contact the local OSHA office to file the complaint
  • Complete a complaint form on OSHA’s website
  • Send a completed complaint form via email, fax, or mail
  • Visit the OSHA officer in person to complain

If an employee develops an asbestos-related illness, they may be eligible to file a legal claim against their employer and seek justice and compensation. A qualified attorney can help in such a situation.

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If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced nationwide mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.


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