Asbestos is a fiber composed of a set of six naturally occurring minerals. Historically, it was mined and used to produce industrial and insulating materials because of its resistance to fire, heat, and chemical damage. It is also affordable to produce and has desirable sound absorption and tensile strength properties.
However, as early as the 1930s, it was discovered that exposure to asbestos causes severe health problems. Asbestos fibers can enter the body when a person ingests or inhales airborne particles. The particles then become embedded in the digestive or respiratory systems. Most often, asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer affecting the protective lining that covers many internal organs.
Workers in the construction industry have a higher risk of encountering asbestos-containing materials. For this reason, asbestos standards in the construction industry are closely regulated, particularly for the following activities:
- Removing asbestos-containing material
- Demolishing structures where asbestos is present
- Installing asbestos-containing products
- Cleaning up asbestos spills
- Transporting/disposing of asbestos-containing products
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established strict exposure limits for these activities, and employers are required to conduct exposure assessments. These assessments must be conducted using breathing zone air samples representing full-shift exposure in each work area. In addition, all construction sites with asbestos operations must have a designated competent person on site capable of identifying and correcting asbestos hazards. If an employer fails to perform these safety measures, they may be held liable for any asbestos-related disease contracted by employees.
If you are suffering from an asbestos-related disease from exposure in the workplace, you may be able to seek compensation. Consult an experienced Philadelphia asbestos attorney as soon as possible.