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Maryland sets a new standard for asbestos violations

We previously noted that cases of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases are expected to peak in the next eight years. This is because up until the 1980s, people were regularly exposed to asbestos and it can take about 40 years for symptoms to develop. Since the 1980s, however, states have started to hold companies responsible for using or manufacturing asbestos products or for the careless removal asbestos.

However, many victims of these diseases may agree that the penalties for asbestos violations are not strict enough to truly prevent similar negligence from being repeated. Maryland, however, has recently been commended for their new standard pertaining to remediation violations.

For several years, some asbestos-removal contractors have engaged in taking shortcuts to save time and money. These efforts, however, put workers and others in danger. Instead of taking their role seriously, some removal companies knowingly violate environmental law to win contracts and make money. Until now, companies were only fined around $5,000 for violations. This amount was doing little to dissuade dishonest contractors.

However, Maryland set a new standard by increasing fines for asbestos-removal violations to $25,000 instead of $5,000. Additionally, the funds collected from negligent companies go directly to an Asbestos Worker Protection Fund. This fund is dedicated to increasing outreach and enforcement and other states may be encouraged to create a similar program.

The state has been commended for their efforts in punishing those who disregard workers' health in the pursuit of financial gains. It is important for companies and workers to remember that asbestos is still commonly present in older buildings and products. During remodeling, construction and demolition projects, disturbing asbestos can seriously affect a person's health. Removal companies are responsible for observing proper safety measures and precautions. If they fail to, they can be held liable for any resulting injuries or illnesses.

Source: Occupational Health & Safety, "Maryland's Asbestos Worker Protection Law Hailed," June 5, 2012

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