Previously, we began speaking generally about the workplace safety responsibilities employers have with respect to asbestos exposure. As we noted, employers are bound by various safety requirements, including those enforced by OSHA, and can face penalties for failing to abide by these rules. Employees who are harmed by an employer’s violations of these rules can and should see to it that these violations are reported to the proper authorities.
Employers who are injured by workplace safety violations should also know that they have the right to seek compensation for injuries and diseases resulting from asbestos exposure. In most cases, compensation will only be available through the workers’ compensation system. This is because the workers’ compensation system bars workers from pursuing civil claims against their employers for workplace injuries. There are certain exceptions to this general rule, and we’ll talk more about this in our next post.
Workers’ compensation covers both mental and physical injuries stemming from both accidents and occupational diseases. The latter are defined under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act as diseases or illnesses stemming from causes and conditions which are unique to a particular trade, occupation or employment. Claims for occupational diseases may be filed up to one year from the later of either the date the employee becomes aware of the disease, or a related disability, or from the date there was a reasonable belief the disease was related to the employee’s work.
Workers’ compensation claims may be brought in connection with asbestos exposure, not only at the state level against an employer, but also at the federal level in some cases. In our next post, we’ll look at how a certain class of employees who suffer from asbestos-related disease may have the ability to obtain workers’ compensation through the federal Department of Labor, as well as circumstances where it may be possible to pursue civil litigation.