Why is Asbestos Such a Dangerous Workplace Hazard?
Asbestos is a combination of six naturally occurring minerals. It is fibrous, thin, resistant to heat, fire and chemicals. These qualities make it ideal for insulation. However, the same qualities also make asbestos impossible to remove from the lungs. Workers exposed to asbestos may develop constant lung irritation. This irritation causes inflammation, which leads to asbestosis and cancer.
Despite possible health risks, some products still use asbestos in limited quantities. Buildings constructed decades ago may still contain asbestos. Estimates suggest that more than 1,000 tons of asbestos was released when the Twin Towers fell on 9/11. That is because asbestos was heavily used while constructing the World Trade Center in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
What Can Happen to Workers Exposed to Asbestos?
People who develop asbestos-related illnesses may experience shortness of breath, a persistent cough, chest pain, fatigue, loss of appetite and problems swallowing. One of the most common complications caused by long-term asbestos exposure is mesothelioma, a fatal lung cancer.
Roofers, plumbers, construction workers, miners, shipbuilders, and machinists are at risk for exposure. This is through no fault of their own, but because their employers have not provided adequate protections from this workplace hazard.
Can Workers Avoid Being Exposed to Asbestos?
Work sites with asbestos hazards should have warning signs. Workers should receive protective clothing and equipment when working near asbestos. Some workers should be carefully monitored for exposure, and provided with regular medical examinations.
Workers who develop mesothelioma or asbestosis from unsafe working conditions may have options to receive workers comp or other benefits. Depending on the situation, additional options for compensation may exist.
The Columbus workers compensation attorneys at Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC can help injured workers or their families explore options for benefits.