Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral as fibrous silicate in different construction materials due to its heat and corrosion-resistant properties. Asbestos is present in products such as floor tiles, building materials, and insulation for pipes. It comprises mineral fibers including amosite, crocidolite, chrysotile, tremolite, actinolite, and anthophyllite.
It is crucial to have proper awareness about the health hazards associated with asbestos. Due to heavy exposure to asbestos during renovation or repairs, workers are most likely to be exposed to asbestos-containing materials. When workers are exposed to asbestos, they can inhale its airborne fibers that cause mesothelioma, a form of cancer.
It can form scar tissues in the lungs that cause lung cancer and create a fatal tumor in the stomach cavity. The survival rate of mesothelioma patients is five years after diagnosis. But it depends on the condition and age of the patient.
Here is a complete guide that will let you know about the repercussions of asbestos exposure at work.
Know your legal rights
All construction workers need to know what legal action to take if they are victims of asbestos exposure. Workers dealing with asbestos-coated materials at construction sites should understand the higher risk of mesothelioma.
Suppose your construction site exposes you to asbestos, and you started noticing symptoms of mesothelioma. In that case, you should file a lawsuit against the construction company to seek financial compensation for asbestos exposure.
The best course of action would be to consult an experienced law firm like Simmons Hanly and Conroy to understand the legal implications and procedures. A professional lawyer by your side will help make your claim stronger against the negligent company.
Take necessary measures
People working in the construction industry should know about the safety measures to secure themselves from asbestos exposure. First, you must wear the proper safety equipment, including protective gloves, chemical splash goggles, respiratory protection, hearing protection, full-face shields, and protective clothing.
The most crucial part to protect is your face because airborne asbestos particles start affecting your body once you inhale them. So, make sure that your company is providing you quality protective equipment and especially the face shield.
It is also recommended for construction workers to visit their doctors regularly to ensure they are in perfect health. The doctor may suggest a test based on a person’s medical history and substance exposure. It is impossible to remove the asbestos particles from the lungs after exposure.
But, by protecting the respiratory system, you can reduce the disease’s chances of developing further. Some of the safety measures against asbestos exposure are:
- Regular medical checkups
- Getting vaccinations against pneumococcal pneumonia and flu regularly.
- Avoid any contact with asbestos-containing materials.
- Quit smoking.
Role of OSHA to Reduce hazards of asbestos
OSHA (occupational safety and health administration) has set the standards for workers’ exposure to asbestos in the construction industry. These standards reduce the risk of workers because it forces employees to provide personal exposure monitoring to analyze risk awareness training to workers.
It will prepare them to deal with potential asbestos exposure. There is no safe level of asbestos exposure which means any occupational exposure can increase the risk of asbestos-related disease. According to OSHA, employers are responsible for the safety of their employees.
They have to implement practices by using administrative controls to minimize the airborne levels of asbestos at construction sites. It is also the responsibility of construction companies to look after the health of their workers during their employment tenure.
They should provide health benefits to employees to reduce the burden of medical expenses from their shoulders.
Asbestos-containing materials and products
Construction industries all over the world use different types of asbestos-containing products. Most asbestos products are still used in countries like China, India, Russia, and Mexico. According to research, there is a high risk of asbestos exposure for the workers who handle construction products, aircraft parts, automotive parts, and heavy equipment parts.
Statistics show that a large number of affected workers due to asbestos are from the construction industry. Most building materials are manufactured with asbestos because the mineral is considered cheap, strong, and fire-resistant.
These factors make asbestos the first choice of product manufacturers, but they forget its harmful health effects. Asbestos is mainly found in the following construction materials.
- Electrical components.
- Protective clothing.
Most of the asbestos materials are used in older homes. But still today, the use of asbestos is active, and laboratory equipment in universities and old plumbing pipes are its most prominent examples.
The commercial and industrial asbestos-containing products are used in different works, including power generation, oil & gas, chemical production, plumbing, and automotive repair.
Workers in the construction sector are exposed to asbestos while building homes. Plumbers are exposed to asbestos insulation and pipes. Auto mechanics are exposed while changing clutches and brakes, and electricians are exposed while fixing electrical panels and other types of equipment.
Seeking Professional Assistance
It is not a good idea to renovate an old home yourself because of the possible presence of asbestos in paint and other electrical systems. You must hire professional experts who can renovate and repair your home by taking standard safety measures.
The same goes for construction companies. Employers should also seek the professional assistance of experts who can guide workers on protecting themselves from asbestos-containing materials and spot such products efficiently.
Professional companies in the construction and industrial sectors are responsible for the safety of their employees. They should conduct training programs to educate employees about the health hazards associated with asbestos.
It will help mitigate the risk of deadly diseases like mesothelioma in workplaces and ensure employees’ safety. As a worker, you also have to be aware of the standard measures to keep yourself secure from asbestos exposure.