- As Asbestos Removal Increases, Vigilance Is Required
- April 26, 2017
- Law Firm: Waters Kraus LLP - Dallas Office
Because of the known dangers of asbestos, its use in new construction has decreased dramatically in the United States. However, because many old buildings are currently undergoing renovation, asbestos continues to pose danger to construction workers. As contractors take on more and more renovation projects, they continue to encounter old asbestos woven decades ago into different parts of the building. In fact, registered asbestos removal projects in Massachusetts hit an all-time high in 2015 of 23,756, up more than 50% in five years. This is why mesothelioma lawyers expect mesothelioma litigation to continue for the foreseeable future.
Workers hired by contractors may be in harm’s way as they perform these projects, even though there are regulations in place meant to protect them from the dangers of asbestos. However, it is clear that some companies performing asbestos removal are putting their employees in danger by disregarding mandated safety standards. In fact, workers claim that these safety lapses are exceedingly common in Massachusetts. These lapses or shortcuts include inadequate respiratory protection, substandard hazardous-material suits, no curtains to contain dust, and lack of shower facilities or places to change before leaving the job-site. It was discovered that workers for one company were not even wearing breathing apparatuses when removing asbestos-containing ceiling tiles.
There were even companies that received three different fines. Some have speculated that companies are actually budgeting for potential asbestos fines. Unfortunately, this type of thinking can expose employees to cancer-causing substances. But, because these cancers do not manifest themselves for decades, it is “out of sight, out of mind” for these employers. While it is impossible to know whether these practices are widespread outside of Massachusetts, judging by the amount of mesothelioma litigation pending in the American court system, it is likely that asbestos removal companies do not always prioritize their employees’ safety.
It is also important to note that the United States did not enact a total ban on asbestos, unlike 58 other countries. Roof coatings and floor tiles can still contain the dangerous, cancer-causing substance. Unfortunately, the federal agency charged with enforcing federal safety standards, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), has been relatively inactive. Much of the enforcement has fallen upon the state agencies and if you happen to live in a state with an inactive agency, you might be at risk of asbestos exposure.
Because asbestos can travel on clothes, employees who have been exposed to asbestos without the ability to change clothes or shower on-site after work risk exposing their family to asbestos as well. This is another reason that mesothelioma lawyers expect mesothelioma litigation to continue for quite a while. Thus, if you feel that your employer has not enacted the proper safety procedures, it is important that you contact the appropriate state or federal authority. Mesothelioma is a terminal cancer so this is very much a matter of life and death. While it can be difficult to speak up and raise safety concerns for fear of employer retaliation, it is extremely important that employees are aware of the potential dangers that they face on a daily basis.