Each day, around 1.3 million Americans go to a certain workplace where they are exposed to huge amounts of asbestos, as stated by the OSHA. For many years, the connection between asbestos and severe health problems such as mesothelioma has been established.
However loads of employees have more queries than answers when it comes to asbestos. What’s asbestos? In which jobs are you almost certain to encounter huge amounts of asbestos? What measures can be taken to protect workers from mesothelioma as well as other health issues linked to such exposure? Here are a few answers.
Asbestos is a fibrous material that’s naturally occurring. Partly due to its durability as well as heat and flame resistance, asbestos has been used numerous industries and jobs for many years. However, long before its regard in many companies, asbestos became connected with health issues.
Over the many years, thousands of employees have developed a fatal asbestos-related disease known as mesothelioma.
The hazards of asbestos and its effects have been apparent for decades now. Everybody breathes in minute amounts of asbestos daily because it naturally occurs in the environment. However, as asbestos fibers can be breathed in, even brief exposure to huge levels of asbestos can cause breathing problems, coughing, and breath shortness.
Asbestos has been categorized as a cancer-causing (carcinogen) substance. Therefore, the most severe health problems come from continuing exposure to asbestos – particularly for older individuals who may have spent many years in the workplace prior to the advent of protective measures that help look after workers from most exposure to asbestos in the workplace today.
Serious health issues related to exposure to asbestos include:
- lung cancer
- mesothelioma (a cancer form that attacks the lining of the abdomen and chest
- asbestosis (lung buildup and inflammation that can result in difficulty breathing, coughing, and long-lasting lung damage)
- gastrointestinal and colorectal cancers, and
- abnormalities (calcification and thickening) in the chest cavity lining.
Jobs That Have Risk of Exposure to Asbestos
Even now, decades following the advent of health problems about asbestos as well as the increase in deadly asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma, asbestos exposure is still rather common (even necessary) in a few lines of work. Here’s a list of occupations that have usually seen employees exposed to huge amounts of asbestos:
- construction, renovation, or demolition of commercial and residential buildings
- paper mills
- cooling and heating equipment repair
- auto repair (especially clutch and brake repair)
- manufacture of asbestos-containing products
- roofing, and
- janitorial jobs in structures that contain failing asbestos.
Workers’ Rights to Asbestos Exposure Protection
If as part of your job, you work around or with huge levels of asbestos — or if you are worried about asbestos exposure in the workplace — speak to your union or supervisor about any health problems and the measures being taken to reduce those risks.
The OSHA and other safety organizations are intended to monitor and regulate asbestos exposure on the job carefully – they even establish permissible exposure restrictions for various kinds of industries. So the odds are that if your job does implicate exposure to huge amounts of asbestos, then your employer is lawfully obliged to take measures to protect you and your workmates from any health problems involving asbestos.