Asbestos In The Workplace: What You Should Know

28 January 2015
 Categories: , Blog


Asbestos is a fibrous material that occurs naturally, but can be very dangerous to have in the workplace. It used to be used on old homes and buildings because it is resistant to heat, but when you inhale the material, it can lead to different forms of cancer, particularly a type of lung cancer called mesothelioma. If you think there is asbestos in your building or that you have come in contact with it, this is what you should know.

Health Problems and Asbestos

Believe it or not, everyone is breathing in a very small amount of asbestos every day because it occurs in the environment naturally. However, some jobs put you at risk of inhaling a large amount of it, which can then cause any number of issues. The most severe is leading to mesothelioma and other forms of cancer. It also causes breathing problems, lung discomfort, coughing, and shortness of breath. As a cancer-causing substance, called a carcinogen, asbestos can lead to cancer even if it starts with a simple cough.

Industries at Risk of Asbestos Exposure

It is important to understand where asbestos is found and who is most at risk. While you can find asbestos just about anywhere, exposure is more likely in the following jobs and industries:

  • Paper mills
  • Shipbuilding
  • Renovation, demolition and construction
  • Heating and cooling repair
  • Mining
  • Automotive repair
  • Roofing repair
  • Manufacturing of asbestos-containing products
  • Janitorial jobs

The Employer's Responsibility

Regardless of the type of job you have or what industry you work in, it is your employer's responsibility to provide you with a safe and secure work environment, free of dangers like asbestos. This includes giving you a well ventilated workspace, providing you with protective clothing and equipment when working with asbestos, and training you on how to work safely around asbestos. They should also be monitoring employees working around asbestos to make sure they are not unknowingly putting themselves or others at harm. If the employer is found to have known about the asbestos and did not do their due diligence to protect you, you may have a lawsuit on your hands.

If you have been working with asbestos and are feeling ill, your first visit should be to the doctor. They will give you a proper diagnosis. Either way, if you have been exposed to asbestos as a result of your occupation, you should talk to a personal injury lawyer that specializes in workplace-related cases. This goes beyond a worker's compensation claim if the employer knew about the dangers, but still did not warn or protect you properly. Contact a firm such as Shoap Law Offices to learn about your rights as an employee.