Even though it is highly regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, asbestos continues to be a problem at many construction sites throughout the country, including many here in Arizona. Work injuries due to asbestos exposure often do not manifest right away. It could take years for symptoms of exposure to appear, and the results are often deadly.
Construction jobs that involve demolition, renovation or repairs could expose workers to this dangerous substance. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can damage lung tissue, which causes a buildup of scar tissue, called asbestosis. Lung function will then begin to degrade, and ultimately, an individual becomes permanently disabled before dying. Exposure could also lead to mesothelioma, which is a cancer that is almost exclusively caused by inhalation of asbestos fibers and is nearly always deadly.
Despite the fact that asbestos levels are regulated, it should be made clear that there is no safe exposure level for humans. Employers are required to ensure the safety of their workers by testing for the presence of asbestos, monitoring levels at the site and limiting workers’ exposure as much as possible. Training and safety equipment, such as protective clothing and breathing apparatuses, are required for anyone who could be exposed.
Even being exposed to asbestos a few times can lead to work injuries such as asbestosis or mesothelioma. If an Arizona construction worker is diagnosed with either of the conditions — even years after the initial exposure — he or she could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Furthermore, one might have a third-party cause of action against another party who is believed to be responsible for the exposure.
Source: osha.gov, “Asbestos“, Oct. 16, 2016