Asbestos has been banned for decades as a construction material in American buildings, homes and vehicles, but it still poses a severe safety risk to workers. Algonquin worker comp lawyers will confirm that many workplaces may still contain asbestos. A recent inspection of an auto parts store in Kansas demonstrates the ongoing danger of asbestos exposure for employees in a range of industries.
Serious safety violations in a Kansas shop
During March 2015, inspectors from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration visited an Advance Auto Parts shop in Kansas after a worker complained about respiratory hazards on the job. The inspection revealed the presence of asbestos in deteriorating floor tiles. The tiles were made up of 3 percent asbestos in the form of chrysotile, a fibrous mineral that is extremely dangerous to employees. The Advance Auto Parts shop was charged with 10 serious safety violations and fined $60,000.
Why is asbestos so dangerous to workers?
Asbestos can hurt or kill workers who are exposed to it. This natural material is made up of tiny fibers that break loose and become airborne, entering the respiratory system of people who breathe in the fibers. Even a few days of asbestos exposure can cause fatal job-related illnesses later in life. Studies have shown that no level of contact with this material is safe for the human respiratory system.
Common illnesses associated with asbestos exposure
A number of serious job-related illnesses are linked directly to asbestos exposure. Some of the most lethal conditions include the following:
- Mesothelioma (a deadly form of cancer caused by asbestos fibers)
- Asbestosis (inflammation and scarring of lung tissue)
- Inhalation-related asthma
Many workers are disabled every year because of these conditions, as Algonquin worker comp lawyers know.
Protecting employees from asbestos
Every person who works in an older building is at potential risk of exposure to asbestos fibers. Employees who spend time in old houses, shops, schools and public facilities must monitor the presence of asbestos and use proper safety equipment at all times. Auto mechanics and shipbuilders are also at an elevated risk of asbestos-related disease. Current OSHA statistics show that serious work-related sickness has decreased by a factor of almost 300 percent since 1972, but deadly irritants are still far too common in workplaces.
Workers have rights
Workers who have been exposed to asbestos on the job have rights and options. People with job-related lung disease may wish to speak with Algonquin worker comp lawyers.