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Workers exposed to asbestos during renovation project

Workers in any industry have the right to expect that they will be working in safe conditions and given access to protective equipment when appropriate. Job sites should not be places where a person's life is needlessly in danger. But too many employees work on job sites where asbestos is present and this could be a very real threat to their health.

Many of the people who work in construction are at risk of being exposed to asbestos. The toxic fiber was commonly used for decades in building materials because it was cheap to produce, resistant to fire and even possesses sound absorption qualities. But when it is disturbed and released into the air, asbestos can be breathed into a person's lungs, where it can do irreparable damage. This is why it is crucial that workers be protected from asbestos exposure on the job.

Unfortunately, many employers continue to be negligent in their duties to protect workers from being exposed to asbestos. Instead of hiring trained workers or warning employees about the risks of asbestos and providing them with protective equipment, irresponsible employers will skip these duties and hope that no one finds out. By failing to comply with these simple steps, employers are putting the health and lives of workers in danger.

Recently, a property manager faced federal charges after he reportedly failed to comply with a number of asbestos regulations. After the ceilings were damaged in an apartment complex, the manager reportedly hired a contractor who hired untrained workers to renovate the ceilings.

Before the work was done, no steps were taken to inspect the ceilings, which contained asbestos, and the workers were never warned about the presence of asbestos or given access to protective gear. The contractor and the complex manager each faced criminal charges for their roles in violated asbestos laws.

But these charges do not address the health concerns that the workers may now be struggling with. People who have discovered that they have been exposed to asbestos may require time away from work to deal with medical visits, ongoing tests and monitoring in order to identify any asbestos-related illnesses and assistance coping with the possibility of developing a fatal disease. In order to cover these and similar costs associated with a workplace illness, employees may want to consider filing for workers' compensation benefits.

Source: The Seattle Times, "2 charged over asbestos work at Kent apartments," John de Leon, Sept. 30, 2013

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