I was exposed to asbestos at work – Now what?By Gabriel Levin on March 21st, 2016
While the link between asbestos and serious health problems like mesothelioma has been well established, many employees still have questions concerning asbestos such as the following:
- What is asbestos?
- In which occupations are you most likely to encounter significant levels of asbestos?
- What steps can be taken to protect employees from mesothelioma and other health problems linked to asbestos exposure?
Below are some answers to your questions relating to asbestos.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring, fibrous material that has been used in many industries and occupations for decades. But, long before its popularity in industry peaked, asbestos became linked to health problems, and over the years thousands of workers have developed a deadly asbestos-related disease called mesothelioma. Asbestos has been classified as a cancer-causing substance.
Asbestos in the Workplace
Everyone breathes in trace amounts of asbestos each day, but because asbestos fibers can be inhaled, even short-term exposure to high levels of asbestos while on the job can lead to breathing problems, coughing, and shortness of breath. It comes as no surprise that the most severe health risks come from long-term exposure to asbestos on the job. In many instances, older people who may have spent decades in the workplace before safety measures were developed to protect employees from asbestos exposure are at even greater risk.
Serious health problems related to asbestos exposure include:
- Lung cancer
- Colorectal and gastrointestinal cancers
- Abnormalities in the lining of the chest cavity
Jobs With Greater Risk of Asbestos Exposure
Exposure to asbestos is still quite common in some lines of work. Here’s a list of occupations and industries that have traditionally seen workers exposed to significant levels of asbestos:
- Paper mills
- Heating and cooling equipment repair
- Automotive repair
- Manufacture of products containing asbestos
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other workplace safety agencies were established to carefully regulate and monitor asbestos exposure on the job. So more than likely your employer is legally required to take certain steps to protect you and your coworkers from any health risks involving asbestos.
Depending on the industry you work in and the specifics of your job, you may be legally entitled to receive the following protections from asbestos exposure while on the job:
- Training of employees who will be working with and around asbestos
- Properly ventilated workspaces
- Monitoring of employees for asbestos exposure levels
- Warning signs and instructions in areas where asbestos-related work is performed
- Protective clothing like coveralls, gloves, foot coverings, face shields, and goggles
- Protective equipment like respirators
- Showers and other post-exposure precautions
- Medical examinations for certain workers who are exposed to high levels of asbestos.
Who Is Legally Responsible?
If jobs you have held involved working with or around significant amounts of asbestos, you may have questions about lawsuits regarding exposure to asbestos. Generally speaking, if an employee suffers from health problems that are caused by asbestos in the workplace, a lawsuit would be filed against some or all of the following parties:
- The company that manufactured the asbestos or any protective equipment that failed to work properly
- Owners of the premises where the work was being performed
- Contractors and sub-contractors involved in the work being performed.
At The Levin Firm, we understand that representing workers’ compensation claimants requires particular types of skills and knowledge, as well as ability to understand your rights as an employee. We understand these issues, and work with our clients, their friends and family, as well as their doctors, psychologists, long-term care planners, and others – to ensure that our clients receive not only the finest legal representation, but also the finest support and medical care.
Workers’ compensation claims are complex, and require attorneys who understand how to navigate the system, and who are willing to explain the status of your case to you every step of the way. At The Levin Firm, we investigate every claim so that we may aggressively and zealously represent our clients and obtain the best possible results.
When you need a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or New Jersey personal injury attorney to represent you, a family member or friend who has been injured at work, contact The Levin Firm at (215) 825-5183. We represent every client zealously in order to obtain the best results possible in each case.