Inadequate government oversight seems to play a significant role in issues related to many workplace safety issues, including asbestos contamination. For years, the government did not take an official stance on asbestos. Eventually, medical science made it clear that prolonged exposure to asbestos could eventually cause serious medical issues, such as the deadly cancer mesothelioma.
That knowledge prompted the government to limit how much exposure a company could permit in employees and resulted in guidelines intended to minimize the health impact of asbestos in the environment and in products. It also gave rise to public awareness about the potential dangers of asbestos in their environment. Unfortunately, very little is known about environmental asbestos exposure.
In fact, a recent analysis of data collection seems to indicate that the government has not engaged in adequate testing of buildings to determine asbestos contamination levels. Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied a petition filed with the intention of increasing asbestos reporting. That could have implications for businesses, as well as for employees who find themselves sick later in life.
The EPA claims there is insufficient data about the dangers of asbestos
Concerns about inadequate reporting, as well as issues related to increased importation of asbestos mineral products likely played a part in a group of advocacy organizations filing a petition with the EPA in September, 2018.
The petition effectively sought to change the current rules about asbestos and the requirements for businesses to report it. If the EPA granted the petition, that may have changed reporting requirements for companies in a variety of different industries.
However, the EPA denied the petition on Dec. 21, 2018. Shortly before the end of the year, the EPA publicized its rejection of the petition, with a note stating that there was inadequate evidence to support ending any rules.
Insufficient reporting may make it harder for individuals to track their source of exposure
Asbestos exposure is particularly insidious when it causes illness because it takes years, if not decades, to produce any symptoms in otherwise healthy individuals. In fact, it can take 20 to 50 years for most cases of mesothelioma to start producing symptoms.
Without adequate records of where companies handle, process and store asbestos and products containing asbestos, it can be difficult for workers to prove the source of their contamination. This can complicate the claims process for individuals seeking compensation to pay for medical care when they receive a mesothelioma diagnosis.
However, even for those who don’t know with certainty where they wound up exposed to asbestos, it may still be possible to connect with compensation. The first step in any potential civil case related to asbestos should be consulting with an attorney who understands this complex area of law.