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Workers exposed to asbestos during repair and maintenance projects

Many folks who work in construction understand that there are certain risks they may face on the job that people in other industries do not. They may work in uncomfortable environments or with powerful and dangerous equipment. However, with proper training and protective equipment, workers should be able to stay safe on the job. Unfortunately, too many employers do not take precautions to keep workers safe in an attempt to cut corners and costs. This can be especially true for people working with asbestos.

When asbestos is breathed in by people, it can be disastrous to their health. Asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma, asbestosis and other potentially fatal diseases. Despite the dangers associated with the toxic material, it was very commonly used in various building materials that still exist today. Workers who are doing repairs or maintenance on structures that contain asbestos may not even realize they are in danger if a negligent employer does not warn them of the asbestos or provide them with proper protection.

Recently, for example, a property owner was fined and a construction project was shut down after it was discovered that workers on the site were being exposed to asbestos. During a project to convert a building into retail and residential space, workers were removing pipe insulation, tiling and other materials from the building. Many of the materials contained asbestos. The workers were wearing only thin paper masks to protect them which means that they were very likely breathing in the asbestos. They were not wetting down the materials to prevent asbestos from becoming airborne which makes it even more likely that they were affected by the asbestos.

Even though the project was stopped, action may have been taken too late. Asbestos exposure can be deadly, but sadly most people who are diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness do not start showing symptoms for decades after exposure. Workers who have been affected by asbestos on the job may qualify for workers' compensation benefits to cope with the medical tests and treatments that they may have to undergo. Many people in this position have found it helpful to work with an attorney who understands the unique challenges that victims of asbestos exposure face.

Source: DNAinfo, "Uptown Developer Sued for 'Careless' Asbestos Removal from Somerset Place," Adeshina Emmanuel, April 18, 2013

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