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Ways to keep employees safe from asbestos on the job

Many products we use today still contain asbestos, even though we have known for quite some time that exposure to asbestos can be toxic. Most people would agree that when a product is proven to be hazardous, it probably shouldn't be used anymore, and in many cases this is true.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said when it comes to asbestos in this country. Despite the fact that many countries have banned the use of asbestos in products, the U.S. still allows some products to be made with asbestos. This means that workers will continue to face risks associated with asbestos exposure and that employers must be vigilant when it comes to protecting employees.

Workplaces are one of the most common sites for asbestos exposure, so it is crucial that employers comply with asbestos regulations set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration when it comes to protecting employees from exposure.

To begin with, employers must assess workplaces and monitor for any potential hazards related to asbestos. They can have air quality tested and dangerous materials disposed of. They can put in place systems to detect if concentration of asbestos reaches or exceeds the Permissible Exposure Limit.

Employers should also be sure that they warn employees about asbestos if it is on site. Warning employees can help them make decisions to protect themselves and stay away from or be especially alert in certain areas. Not telling people about asbestos will not make it go away or pose less of a threat.

Further, if employees need to work near or with asbestos, it is crucial that they be provided with certain tools to avoid or minimize the risk of toxic exposure. Employees should receive:

  • Training about the risks of asbestos
  • Protecting clothing including gloves, masks and suits
  • An area to shower and be decontaminated after being exposed to asbestos

If employers comply with all these requirements, they can protect workers from suffering the devastating -- and often deadly -- consequences of being exposed to asbestos on the job.

However, in the event that an employer fails to take these steps, employees should understand that they can speak with an attorney to explore their options for legal action and financial compensation.

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