If you work in the construction or demolition industries, a common word that you may hear in the context of a safety hazard is asbestos. Many who perform your same type of work have come to us here at Steppacher Law knowing that asbestos exposure can be dangerous yet not fully understanding what it is and/or why it presents hazards to your health. Educating yourself about it not only can help you be more vigilant of it but also understand whose responsibility it is to protect you from it.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that is heat resistant and thus is used in many building materials as a method of fire protection. At the height of its use, over 3,000 products incorporated asbestos into their design. However, breathing in asbestos particles and fibers was shown to contribute to serious lung diseases, which lead to the Environmental Protection Agency seeking a ban on its use. While a ban was never enacted, manufacturers drastically cut back on its use. Some build products today do still contain asbestos, but their concentrations are minimal.
This means that your greatest chance of being exposed to asbestos can come from working in older structures that used products with heavy asbestos concentrations. According to the EPA, common areas where asbestos is found include:
- Attic and wall insulation
- Vinyl flooring adhesives
- Roofing shingles
- Water and steam pipe coatings
- Oil and coal furnace insulation
Contractors and build engineers are tasked with inspecting structures that are likely to contain materials containing high levels of asbestos fibers. If it is discovered, abatement should be done to remove the materials in order to avoid you and your coworkers being exposed to them.
You can learn more about potential workplace hazards by continuing to explore our site.