Asbestos, an extremely durable natural mineral, has been used in thousands of ways because of its resistance to heat and chemicals, as well as its inability to conduct electricity. Although some people come into contact with asbestos fibers in their homes, the primary place where most people suffer asbestos exposure is their work environments.

Industries with the Highest Incidence of Asbestos Exposure

Clearly, some work environments will expose employees to more or less asbestos fibers than others. Asbestos work exposure is especially significant for those who work in:

  • appliance factories and/or repair shops (especially if older appliances made with asbestos are primarily made or worked on)
  • construction
  • demolition
  • emergency rescue jobs (As a modern example, rescue workers and volunteers who helped in cleanup efforts after the September 11th disaster were exposed to massive amounts of toxic asbestos particles when rescuing those in the crumbling towers.)
  • mines, mills and/or logging camps
  • plumbing
  • railroad and/or automotive industries
  • shipyards
  • tiling and insulation industries

Along with anyone employed in the above fields, family members of these workers are also at a dramatically higher risk of developing asbestos cancer and other asbestos-related conditions, as workers can bring home toxic asbestos fibers and particles on their clothing, hair and bodies.

Minimizing Asbestos Work Exposure

The only way to prevent the development of asbestos-related conditions is to completely avoid contact with damaged asbestos and exposed asbestos fibers. However, because asbestos is used in thousands of products and processes, entirely avoiding asbestos isn’t an option for many – and many are often unaware that they are being exposed to asbestos.

Consequently, if you work in any of the above environments or find yourself, for some other reason, regularly using or coming into contact with asbestos, you can minimize your exposure by:

  • only working in environments that strictly adhere to government guidelines and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations regarding asbestos
  • repairing any damaged asbestos as soon as you notice it (or hiring a professional to do so)
  • washing your face, hands and/or clothing after handling asbestos fibers
  • wearing a face mask, gloves and protective clothing when handling or exposed to asbestos fibers

Keep in mind that these measures can’t entirely preclude the development of asbestos cancer or other asbestos-related conditions. Some will still suffer from serious diseases and may die from prolonged asbestos work exposure.

Asbestos Cancer and Related Health Complications

Among the serious, potentially fatal health problems that asbestos exposure can cause are:

  • asbestosis, a chronic, non-cancerous condition characterized by massive scarring in the lung tissues that cause significant breathing problems
  • lung cancer
  • mesothelioma (also referred to as secondary lung cancer or asbestos lung cancer)
  • other cancers, such as throat, esophageal, kidney and/or larynx cancers.

Whether or not an individual develops one of these health complications associated with asbestos work exposure will depend on a person’s health, lifestyle practices and genetic disposition.

Lawsuits and Compensation for Asbestos Work Exposure

Those who develop chronic conditions or asbestos cancer from work exposure likely deserve monetary compensation due to:

  • an employer’s negligence
  • lack of compliance with government and/or OSHA standards
  • lack of safety and/or protective equipment on job sites

A number of other situations can also qualify those with asbestos cancer for compensation. Meeting with a personal injury lawyer who specializes in asbestos lawsuits is the best way to evaluate whether you have a case and how much money you are likely to be awarded.

To learn more about your legal options, contact us today.

Published November 17, 2011 by