Most of the time, when asbestos makes the news, it is in relation to a civil court case. Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that humans have long used to create a broad range of products. Unfortunately, the people who handle, produce or transport those products can wind up sickened from environmental exposure to the deadly carcinogen.
People have sought compensation for asbestos-related illnesses from employers and product producers. Employees can find themselves exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos at work, resulting in a variety of illnesses in later years. Some consumer products, such as talcum powder, have in recent years also been linked to asbestos and certain cancers.
However, the consequences related to asbestos exposures are not always civil and financial. In some cases, they can be criminal. There is currently a criminal case in Iowa that involves the federal prosecution of a contractor who intentionally violated work standards by failing to protect subcontractors from asbestos exposure.
Cutting safety corners endangers workers
Health and safety standards in the workplace protect workers and also the public from abuses by employers. Unfortunately, it is still quite common for companies to look for any way around these laws that they can find.
Some businesses abuse loopholes to minimize the amount of safety equipment and other expenses they incur. Other companies covertly break the law with little regard for the potential danger to their workers. They could fail to properly train workers or expect them to work in unsafe conditions, without adequate protective gear.
Hazardous materials, dangerous equipment and unsafe work sites can all contribute to increased danger for employees. When violations of workplace standards are intentional, employers can face both civil action and even criminal consequences.
Iowa case shows blatant disregard for worker safety
In this case from another state, a contractor with building experience purchased a home to renovate. He discovered asbestos piping, but failed to report it to the appropriate government agencies. He also failed to disclose the risk to workers who helped upgrade and repair the home.
As a result, he faced federal prosecution. He wound up sentenced to substantial fines, as well as two years on probation. If any of the workers who dealt with those pipes eventually develops an asbestos-related illness, they will likely have grounds for a compensation claim. Similar criminal consequences could be possible for those in business who knowingly endanger their employees or customers.
Anyone who worked with asbestos in their careers could wind up ill. Civil action and even special compensation funds can assist those struggling due to an asbestos-related illness. That compensation may help those struggling with asbestos-related illnesses to connect with the best possible treatments and care.