An enforcement action by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) against US Steel Corporation has once again demonstrated that asbestos is still a major environmental health threat. Moreover, the outcome of the investigation shows that employers are still refusing to provide meaningful protection for workers against the hazards of exposure to asbestos-containing products.
OSHA began its investigation after it received a complaint about the company’s failure to follow federal regulations. OSHA said that seven workers were ordered to undertake tasks that directly exposed them to asbestos fibers. In one incident, five workers were told to remove and replace valve packing material that contained asbestos. In the other incident, two employees were ordered to remove a decayed section of a pipe. The pipe was later determined to contain asbestos.
The OSHA investigation concluded that US Steel failed to inform its employees of the presence of asbestos, to establish a regulated area to minimize the risk of exposure, to monitor employees for asbestos exposure, to use proper air-handling techniques and to use proper containment and disposal methods. US Steel said that it is reviewing the citations.
While no reports of any illness caused by asbestos product exposure at the US Steel facility were made, this case again demonstrates that, for industrial workers in the United States, exposure to asbestos fibers is a real and continuing danger. Anyone who believes that they or a loved one who may have been exposed to asbestos at work or elsewhere may wish to obtain an examination by a medical professional trained to diagnose and treat asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestosis. Any person who has been diagnosed as suffering from one of these diseases may wish to consult an attorney who specializes in handling asbestos exposure cases for an evaluation of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.
Source: WTAE-TV, “US Steel fined $170,000 after investigation finds workers exposed to asbestos,” Daisy Ruth, Aug. 8, 2016