Like others here in Louisiana and elsewhere, you may think that concerns about asbestos no longer exist. After all, no one uses it anymore, right? Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. If you work in certain industries, you could still suffer from exposure without the proper equipment, training and personal protective gear.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration continues to warn employers and employees of the dangers of breathing in or swallowing asbestos dust or fibers. The problem with this toxic substance is that it can take decades for any associated illnesses to manifest. This is one reason why some people receive diagnoses asbestos-related illnesses, such as mesothelioma, now when they were exposed decades earlier at work.
OSHA’s rules and regulations
When it comes to keeping you safe from asbestos exposure at work, OSHA has three separate standards. The ones for construction and shipyards may be self-explanatory. The third standard applies to general industries, such as clutch and brake repair, manufacturing of asbestos products, or maintenance work that could lead to exposure. Some commonalities among all standards include the following:
- The identification of exposure limits that restrict the amount of time you can be around asbestos fibers, including 30 minutes when the concentration is 1.0 asbestos fibers per cubic centimeter and eight hours when the concentration is 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter.
- Your employer must conduct workplace assessments to determine the presence of asbestos.
- Your employer must monitor the concentration of asbestos to ensure you do not exceed OSHA’s acceptable limits.
- Work practices and engineering controls must be present in order to ensure levels remain at or below the acceptable limits.
Theoretically, if your employer fails to follow the applicable standards, you could suffer exposure to asbestos and may ultimately contract an illness associated with it. Part of the debate that continues regarding this toxic substance is whether any “safe” exposure exists.
Some sources say that brief exposure will do no harm, only prolonged exposure will, while others say that any exposure at all puts your health at risk. Unfortunately, there may be no way to know for sure, so make sure you take precautions every time you could suffer exposure.
If you do suffer from an asbestos-related illness
If you were exposed to asbestos and now suffer from an illness related to that exposure, you may have legal options available to pursue compensation.