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Workers, residents face health risks of asbestos violations

Working in certain jobs can put employees at risk of developing serious work-related illnesses. This can be especially true for workers who have been exposed to asbestos on the job. For decades, it has been known that the mineral can do catastrophic damage to a person's health if it is inhaled or ingested. But despite this knowledge, many employers still fail to properly warn employees of these risks and protect them from exposure.

In many cases, this negligence stems from a desire to save money. Providing the proper training and protective equipment that workers need can be expensive and many people try to cut costs by side-stepping these requirements. If and when this happens, it is ultimately the employee that pays the price if he or she develops an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma.

But it is important for these victims to remember that they have the right to hold a negligent employer accountable for behaviors that contributed to their illness. One worker may choose to do this after it was reported that a man he worked for committed numerous asbestos violations, putting his health in jeopardy.

The employer was completing an asbestos abatement job. He hired a 50-year-old assistant to help him with the project, but did not provide the worker with protective equipment. While removing the asbestos materials, the employer also failed to dispose of the toxic materials properly. Reports indicate that more than 1,000 pounds of asbestos dust was released into the air during the project.

Not only is the worker in danger of developing an asbestos-related illness because of the lack of protection during the job, but residents in the area may also be at risk if they breathed in the dust that was released. Sadly, the true impact of this man's negligence may not be known for decades, as it can take that long for symptoms of mesothelioma, asbestos and lung cancer to show up.

In cases of workers exposed to asbestos, it can be appropriate for them to pursue workers' compensation to help cover the costs of testing, treatment and lost wages related to the exposure. These expenses can be substantial, so it is also possible for victims to also pursue a civil claim against a negligent party. Money cannot undo the damage of asbestos exposure, but it can ease the financial burden that is often experienced by victims.

Source: CNY Central, "Watertown man arrested for knowingly releasing asbestos in the air," Nov. 14, 2013

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