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If asbestos is found, work should stop

Too often, workers have been exposed to asbestos without their knowledge. Years later, these same workers may learn that they have developed a deadly form of cancer that is the result of breathing in asbestos fibers. Going back and tracking employment to uncover possible exposure sources can be difficult, but it is crucial if a person chooses to pursue compensation from negligent property owners.

Asbestos exposure was very common in certain areas and industries. Those who lived near construction sites or asbestos plants, served in the Navy, or worked in plumbing, construction or on railroads were likely working near or with asbestos. No matter where or when a person was exposed, it is important to remember that employers and property owners have a responsibility to provide people with a safe environment.

Unfortunately, many property owners feel as though removing asbestos or notifying those on site about the asbestos is a hassle. It is inconvenient and expensive to have asbestos responsibly removed, they may argue. But these are the very same people who can be held liable when a person discovers that he or she has mesothelioma.

Recently in South Carolina, workers who were removing steam pipes in a naval base discovered that the pipes were wrapped in asbestos. However, work continued until members from the Department of Health and Environmental Control received an anonymous complaint. It was only after the complaint that officials visited the site and tested the potentially-toxic materials. When it was confirmed that the pipes were indeed wrapped in asbestos, work was stopped.

Now a qualified asbestos-removal company must be hired to come in to remove and dispose of the toxic materials. Until then, it is too dangerous to continue working on the site. When asbestos is disturbed during a construction or demolition project it can be easily inhaled, putting workers in danger.

In the past, anonymous complaints, rapid responses and public notifications were not always options for workers who came into contact with asbestos on a site. Too many business and property owners believed they could get away with cutting corners regarding asbestos, and have put many people in danger because of this. However, it is possible to trace the source of exposure in order to identify a negligent property owner and pursue compensation for their reckless behavior.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Asbestos discovery halts work at old Navy base," Sept. 21, 2012

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