We know that exposure to asbestos can cause deadly cancers such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. We know that occupational exposure is among the most common types of exposure. We know that workers weren’t always protected in the past –are they being protected now?
If you work in an industry where asbestos is present, OSHA says your employer must take certain steps to limit the risks. The exact OSHA standards your employer should use depend on whether you are in construction, general industry or a shipyard.
Basically, the OSHA standards require employers to:
- Provide personal exposure monitoring for employees in order to assess the risk
- Provide hazard awareness training whenever there is any potential exposure to asbestos
- Ensure that airborne asbestos never exceeds legal limits
- Protect workers by establishing regulated areas, controlling work practices and instituting engineering controls to reduce airborne asbestos levels
- Provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and require its use
- If legal limits or exposure times are exceeded, provide medical monitoring of workers
There is no safe level of asbestos exposure
OSHA makes clear that there is no safe level of exposure to any type of asbestos fiber. People who have been exposed to asbestos for just a few days have developed mesothelioma. Any and every exposure to asbestos could cause disease, and every exposure contributes to the risk of getting an asbestos-related disease.
Some Minnesota employers failed to protect workers
There are a variety of occupations that work with asbestos, and many job sites here in Minnesota produced or used asbestos products. Unfortunately, some companies failed to protect workers and consumers from asbestos long after they knew or should have known that exposure to the mineral could be deadly.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestos-lung cancer, you were definitely exposed to asbestos. It might have happened at work or when using asbestos-tainted products in the home. It is even possible to be exposed second-hand when a family member worked with asbestos.