There are many employers and property owners who will do whatever they can to cut their costs. They may work with substandard materials or fail to take appropriate action to improve working or living conditions to keep people safe. Often, these parties are making these decisions because of the short-term benefits they can get; however, the long-term consequences of these choices can be devastating.
In recent posts, we have discussed tenants of rental properties who have been affected by asbestos in their buildings. Sadly, these cases continue to come up because too many property owners continue to fall short when it comes to their responsibility to deal with asbestos safely.
Now that spring is here, home owners all across North Carolina may be doing some spring cleaning and planning home repair or construction projects. However, before people start sweeping, repairing, washing, tearing down or building up their property, they may want to remember that there can be a very real risk of asbestos exposure during these projects.
When people think about premises liability, they often think that it simply means clearing a slippery sidewalk, fixing a broken step or putting up a fence around a swimming pool. These can all pose a threat to a person's safety and they should be addressed by a property owner in order to make it safe for others. However, not all unsafe conditions are this obvious. In fact, there can be hazards lurking inside a building that tenants and visitors are exposed to every single day without even realizing it.
The dangers of asbestos have been known for several years. We know that being exposed to asbestos can cause devastating and permanent damage to a person's health, as it is linked to lung cancer and mesothelioma. But residents of an apartment complex are also learning that exposure to asbestos can also result in other upsetting damages.
It should be no surprise to property owners that asbestos is commonly found in several different areas of many different buildings. For decades, the toxic fiber was used as an inexpensive way to insulate and fire-proof materials used in office buildings and homes in North Carolina and across the country. While asbestos may not present an immediate health hazard to people when it is intact, it can be very damaging if it is disturbed and asbestos dust is released into the air.
Decades ago, many buildings in and around North Carolina were constructed using products that contained asbestos. The use of these materials was quite common because asbestos was relatively cheap and the properties of the material provided effective sound absorption and resistance to fire. Whether asbestos was used in a building's insulation, floor tiles or cement, it was a very popular practice to construct buildings using the fiber.
We have discussed how workers in certain occupations can be much more affected by exposure to asbestos than others. For many years, people in North Carolina and all across the world were working in jobs where they breathed in or came into contact with asbestos without proper protection or warnings by employers.
Many buildings around North Carolina were built using products that contained asbestos. So even though it was not widely used after the 1980s, it still exists in many homes and buildings today. It is in the roof, the insulation, plumbing and even floor tiles. But too many property owners assume that asbestos poses no threat if it is not undisturbed. But there is still a very serious risk associated with having asbestos on a property.
Imagine learning that not one but four of your co-workers have passed away from similar diseases. This would likely lead many people to be fearful that there is some sort of danger threatening others who share the same work space. In many cases, this is proven to be the case when asbestos is discovered inside a building.