Asbestos and occupational exposure
Workers in various fields must remain aware of hazards in nearly any situation. Unfortunately, something like toxic exposure is difficult to account for and plan against. One of the most dangerous and highly publicized materials is asbestos.
It is a regular occurrence for a news item to highlight a newly at-risk occupation or contaminated product that individuals must be cautious of. From miners to fire fighters to school teachers, it seems that no occupation is safe from the material. The ingestion or inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to deadly diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis or ovarian cancer.
While both consumers and workers run the risk of being exposed to asbestos, these five occupational groups are considered the highest risk.
- Construction workers: Before the 1980s, asbestos was a common element in construction materials. Insulation, tile, roofing, steam pipes and numerous other construction products relied on asbestos to provide heat and fire protection. Construction workers on new and renovation projects run the risk of exposure.
- Firefighters: A fire can damage asbestos-containing products, causing the fibers to become airborne. Additionally, asbestos was used to make protective gear such as heavy clothing, helmets and boots.
- Industrial workers: This group of workers can include mechanics, foremen, trade laborers, chemical workers and machinery operators. Asbestos exposure can occur from paper, textiles, gaskets, insulation or fireproofing.
- Power plant workers: Fireproofing spray, pipe insulation, and other heat-resistant products put power plant workers at risk for asbestos exposure and the deadly diseases that follow.
- Shipyard workers: Navy veterans and government shipyard workers account for a significant number of mesothelioma cases. Whether involved in the construction, demolition, repair or daily use of these vessels, workers were likely exposed to asbestos-contaminated boilers, pipes and other heat-resistant fixtures.
Asbestos was used for centuries due to the heat and fire-protection properties of the naturally-occurring mineral. Unfortunately, as the asbestos-laden products were crushed or deteriorated over time, individuals could ingest or inhale the fibers leading to several life-threatening conditions. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, you might be entitled to recover monetary compensation.