Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials have fined a Salem contractor who demolished a downtown building. According to OSHA, the contractor performed a demolition without monitoring for airborne asbestos contamination.
The event in Salem is not unique, and construction workers are at much higher risk for potentially disturbing an asbestos-rich environment. Unfortunately, employers do not always take precautions to keep their employees safe from asbestos exposure.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring material and known carcinogen. The dangerous substance is commonly found in insulation and building materials in older structures. Airborne exposure to asbestos can lead to diseases such as mesothelioma, a type of fatal cancer, which may not show symptoms until 20 to 30 years later.
Asbestos fibers remain in the air for hours, sticking to clothing and other surfaces. This makes airborne exposure more likely if certain safety precautions are not undertaken.
Are Employers Required To Monitor For Asbestos?
While OSHA requires employers to monitor for asbestos and provide safety equipment or training to avoid exposure, some do not. For example, OSHA regulations require that asbestos surfaces be wetted prior to removal. In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control estimated that an average 1.3 million construction and general industry workers are regularly exposed to asbestos.
When workers are exposed to asbestos, the risk of developing mesothelioma, a fatal type of lung cancer, increases significantly. American Cancer Society Statistics show there are 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma every year around the country.
Asbestos-related illnesses cause injury and death, meaning workers or surviving family members might be able to file a workers’ compensation claim. Contacting an attorney can help workers and families figure out which steps to take next.
Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC
– Columbus Workers’ Comp Attorneys