County workers complain about asbestos exposure

Exposure to asbestos-containing products and airborne asbestos fibers continues to put the health of construction and demolition workers at risk. North Carolina and most other states contain dozens of buildings in which asbestos was used for fire-proofing and insulation. Whenever one of these products is disturbed by remodeling or demolition, the persons performing the work can be exposed to asbestos fibers. A recent case in New York provides another example.

The head of Local 182 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (“AFSCME”) filed a grievance alleging that members of the union were required to perform work in a county-owned building that contained asbestos. The state Department of Labor confirmed that a preliminary investigation verified the presence of asbestos-containing products.

The county workers were charged with removing fragments of pipe insulation from the cellar of the building. Some of the pieces required two workers to lift and carry them. Members of other unions who were working in the building may also have been exposed to asbestos fibers.

Asbestos has long been identified as the cause of several debilitating and fatal lung diseases, such asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, an especially deadly form of lung cancer. Anyone who has worked in a building that contains asbestos-containing products has a very high risk of contracting one of these diseases. Such persons may wish to see a physician to find out if they have symptoms of these diseases, such as coughing, difficulty breathing and shortness of breath. If the diagnosis is positive, an attorney who specializes in asbestos claims may be able to provide a helpful assessment of the case and an estimate of the probability of recovering damages from the manufacturers of the asbestos products.

Source: Niagara Gazette, “Niagara County union head claims asbestos exposure,” Philip Gambini, June 7, 2015