3 Primary Legal Considerations for Companies that Handle Asbestos in 2018

Business leaders whose companies regularly handle asbestos need to stay current when it comes legal considerations to guarantee safety for employees and anyone else who may come into contact with this material. Because of the risks associated with asbestos handling, governing bodies frequently update regulations to help business owners keep everyone safe and in compliance.

Once a material commonly used in American construction, asbestos has become widely known as something to dealt with cautiously. If your business occasionally runs across asbestos when dealing with older structures that still contain asbestos — in any capacity — it is important that you learn about some primary legal considerations, according to the latest updates from entities like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

You may feel more confident about protecting your employees, as well as your business’s reputation, after taking a few moments to review three of the most important legal concerns regarding asbestos handling in 2018 and beyond.

1. It Is Possible to Reduce the Hazards of Asbestos

The most common industry sectors that are prone to encounter asbestos include:

  • Construction
  • Shipping and in shipyards, in particular
  • General industry

OSHA has set forth standards to reduce the risk to workers. These standards include the requirement that employers provide personal exposure monitoring to assess the risk and hazard awareness training for all operations with any potential risk. OSHA has also mandated that airborne levels of asbestos must never exceed legal exposure limits to workers. However, since asbestos is a known carcinogen, there is no “safe” level of exposure for any type of asbestos fiber. Instead, there is only minimizing the potential harm to employees.

Employers must monitor the areas where there is a risk of exposure and protect employees by establishing regulated areas, developing protective work practices, procuring safety gear and implementing engineering controls that can help reduce airborne levels. Employers should also provide regular medical monitoring when legal limits and times of exposure are exceeded.

2. The Physical Risks from Asbestos Exposure Can Be Significant

The warnings of risks regarding asbestos cannot be overstated since the health repercussions are real, many and life-threatening. When someone breathes in the tiny asbestos fibers that cause health issues, the damage has begun. Over time, breathing in these poisonous fibers often causes a build-up of scar-like tissue in the lungs known as asbestosis, which ultimately results in loss of lung function that all-too-frequently progresses to disability and death for sufferers.

One of the most common diseases contracted by those exposed to asbestos is mesothelioma of the pleura, which often manifests in a malignant tumor in the cavity of a lung or the stomach. According to the National Cancer Institute, mesothelioma can also develop in the chest wall and, while rare, may also form in the heart or testicles.

3. Law Firms Must Understand Risks and Regulations as Much as Business Owners

Law firms that specialize in litigating on behalf of clients who have contracted diseases related to asbestos exposure must understand all the underlying risks. They must understand the regularly updated risks and regulations as much as the business owner or any medical professional to make sure that safety and prevention of asbestos exposure is always the focus.

The most experienced and committed asbestos-focused law firms began working with mesothelioma clients back in the 1970s when this disease, along with other asbestos-related illnesses, began to come to light. These firms and their attorneys work tirelessly to stay abreast of all current regulations laid out by various bodies, as well as how those regulations apply to businesses and their clients.

Good employers never want to put their valuable employees’ health at risk, but you can always put in a few extra steps to minimize asbestos-related risks in your workplace. Reaching out to experienced law firms with a long history of successfully litigating asbestos cases can speed up your learning processes.

Compassionate law firms would rather help you keep your workplace safe, through learning all the latest regulations, implementing all the best safety measures and training management and employees, than meet with sick employees on the other side of the table.