Asbestos Exposure at Work: Your Risks, Your Rights, Your Protection
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that been used for over 4,000 years in the making of cooking pots, utensils, and insulation. Once considered a miracle product because of its strength and resistance to heat, asbestos is now known to be carcinogenic and cause painful and potentially fatal exposure effects.
While government regulations and safer workplace practices have reduced asbestos exposure in recent decades, there’s still a significant risk to certain workers.
Workers Prone to Asbestos Exposure
The greatest risk of asbestos exposure these days is for people working in environments where asbestos was previously used in construction. Workers in the following occupations are at the greatest risk for suffering exposure risks from asbestos fibers:
- Janitorial jobs in buildings that contain deteriorating asbestos
- Construction, demolition, or renovation of commercial and residential buildings and ships, including roofing, plumbing and heating, and cooling repairs
- Automotive repair, particularly clutch and brake repair
- Rescue and recovery workers at the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks; the building debris contained copious amounts of asbestos
It’s important to note that symptoms of asbestos exposure can take up to 40 years to surface. This means that it’s possible for people who worked with asbestos before regulations were put in place may also be at risk.
Asbestos is made up of thousands of tiny, loosely packed glass-like fibers. When a person becomes exposed to asbestos, it is very easy for him to inhale a portion of these fibers into his lungs. The resulting health conditions that may develop include:
- Thickening and calcification in the lining of the chest cavity. When asbestos is inhaled into the lungs, the fine fibers can cut their way through the lung tissue and settle in the chest cavity. Since the body recognizes the fibers as invaders, it will attempt to attack and absorb the shards. Eventually, tissues in the lining will grow over the invaders and calcify.
- Lung cancer and mesothelioma. When the carcinogenic fibers become lodged in the lungs—either the interior tissue layer or exterior tissue (the mesothelial layer)—they can cause cellular damage. Mesothelial cell damage can lead to tumor growths within the abdomen and chest, which can then become cancerous.
- Asbestosis. This involves inflammation and buildup in the lungs caused by asbestos fibers becoming stuck in the lung tissue. The tissue becomes irritated and begins to swell.
- Colorectal and gastrointestinal cancers. If the fibers find their way into the bloodstream, they can be carried to any part of the body. Likewise, when the fibers are inhaled, some of them may travel down the esophagus and into the stomach, rather than down the windpipe and into the lungs. When the carcinogenic shards settle in the colon or intestines, they can cause cellular damage and create cancerous tumors, just as in the lungs.
Is Your Employer Providing Adequate Protection From Asbestos Dangers?
As with any type of chemical exposure risks, your employer is obligated to monitor your risks and take standardized safety precautions to prevent asbestos exposure injuries. These precautions include providing vented workspaces, protective equipment and clothing, safety training, and routine medical exams for workers who are exposed to high levels of asbestos.
If your employer fails to uphold his safety obligations, and you develop a condition related to asbestos exposure, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation and other forms of help.
Help for Asbestos Your Exposure Injury
If you want the people who are responsible for your asbestos exposure to be held accountable for their actions, you may have several avenues to pursue a legal claim.
- Employers. Workers’ compensation can help you pay for medical bills, as well as cover a portion of the wages you have lost due to your injuries or sickness.
- Manufacturers. You may also be able to file personal injury lawsuits against the manufacturer of failed safety equipment or the asbestos itself.
- Contractors. The contractors and sub-contractors who are involved in your job site and the owner of the premises where the work is performed may also be held responsible for your condition.
Contact attorney Steve Lee today to begin building your personal injury case. No one should have to pay for the consequences of someone else’s negligence—even if that negligence occurred 10, 20, or even 40 years ago. Call now for a FREE consultation and review of your asbestos injury claim.
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