How to Prevent Asbestos Exposure in the Workplace
Nicole Winch | November 4, 2020
Asbestos is a well recognized health hazard and the primary cause of a rare and aggressive cancer known as mesothelioma. Although steps have been taken to drastically reduce and regulate the use of this toxic substance, it still remains in many places we live and work.
Unfortunately, for decades, workers and the general public had little knowledge that asbestos exposure could eventually lead to serious diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. Many companies even hid these dangers from their employees rather than implementing policies to protect them.
Throughout most of the 20th century, the manufacturing and distributing of asbestos was abundant and thousands of products were made with this toxic substance. Most of these products were made into building materials and can still be found in homes, offices and factories nationwide.
People who work in high-risk professions presently can still be at risk of developing mesothelioma. Work settings such as shipyards, power plants, chemical plants, auto mechanic shops and railroads are common places where asbestos still lingers.
If you or you loved has been diagnosed with an asbestos related illness you may be eligible for compensation. The lawyers at BCBH Law have helped patients just like you recover some much needed financial assistance. Contact us today to see how we can help you and your family receive the compensation you deserve.
Mesothelioma Prevention in the Workplace
Since the 1980s, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has put strict regulations on the use of asbestos to protect workers. There are specific OSHA standards that employers must follow for general industry, the construction industry and the shipyard industry. Adhering to these standards ensures that workers reduce their risk of exposure.
OSHA requires employers to test the air in the workplace and keep asbestos levels below 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeters. While employers are responsible for monitoring asbestos exposure limits, OSHA also requires them to:
- Make workers aware of asbestos risks
- Monitor air and keep records
- Assess asbestos risks regularly
- Limit exposures by using proper work practices and controls
- Provide medical surveillance to workers exposed to asbestos
- Provide asbestos awareness training
- If exposure limits are exceeded, provide proper protective equipment (PPE)
While asbestos awareness has increased since these policies were established, some employers may still not take the necessary precautions to keep employees safe. In this case, you should take your own precautions when working around asbestos and report any unsafe work conditions to OSHA.
Steps You Can Take to Prevent Asbestos Exposure
In order to prevent inhaling harmful asbestos fibers and developing an asbestos-related illness you can follow these steps:
- Ask if there is asbestos present at your job site
- Always wear PPE when sawing, drilling, cutting or any time asbestos may be disturbed
- Remove contaminated clothing or shoes before going home
- Don’t dust or vacuum potential asbestos debris with a regular vacuum cleaner. Use a wet cleaning method or a vacuum with a HEPA filter
- Dispose asbestos materials according to state and federal regulations
Removing asbestos requires proper training and certifications. Following proper abatement procedures is essential in keeping yourself and others safe. Never perform any type of asbestos removal procedures for your employer unless you are trained. Hiring a professional is the next best option if you are not trained.
Asbestos related diseases typically don’t surface until 15-50 years after initial exposure to asbestos. If you have a history of exposure, you should monitor your health regularly. Keeping track of any changes to your health ensures the possibility of catching an asbestos related disease sooner rather than later.
- Asbestos.Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Retrieved from: https://www.osha.gov/asbestos. Accessed: 11/04/20.
- ASBESTOS: WORKER AND EMPLOYER GUIDE TO HAZARDS AND RECOMMENDED CONTROLS.National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Retrieved from: https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/materials/asbestos_508.pdf. Accessed: 11/04/20.