From construction and demolition workers to firefighters, metal workers and mechanics, employees in many different industries may risk asbestos exposure on a day-to-day basis. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, even a few day’s exposure to asbestos without proper protection may cause cancer, including aggressive forms of mesothelioma.
OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency require employers to follow certain guidelines to contain and mitigate the risk of employee contact with asbestos. Unfortunately, companies do not always comply with these standards.
1. Insufficient training
In many cases, OSHA requires employers to identify and explain potential asbestos risks to workers. In addition to providing initial training and annual refresher courses, companies should make sure to place clear identifying signs and labels warning employees of the location of asbestos-containing materials.
2. Lack of confined space procedures
In cases where there is a high risk of exposure, OSHA may also require employers to create a clearly demarcated and confined workspace. Employers should make efforts to minimize airborne asbestos levels in these controlled spaces and limit access to workers who understand the nature of the risk and have appropriate protective equipment.
3. Failure to minimize duration of exposure
It is also important that employers limit the duration of time an employee spends in asbestos-controlled areas. When airborne asbestos levels exceed legal limits or a worker’s exposure time exceeds OSHA’s standards, an employer may need to provide medical monitoring.
Even relatively brief exposure to microscopic asbestos fibers may lead to irreversible illness or even death. When a company’s negligence creates excessive risk, employees may be able to receive compensation for themselves and their families.