Asbestos Exposure Once A Major Construction Hazard

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s (OSHA) stringent new safety program for residential construction underscores the dangers that construction workers face daily. But the temporary enforcement measures meant to reduce falls — the number one killer of construction workers — indicate there is a movement to improve the health and safety of industry workers.

Today’s construction workers also have the hard-won benefit of asbestos safety standards that are more stringent than they were decades ago. But for the many workers who labored until the late 1970s, there were few if any protections. Builders needing a material that was cheap, versatile, strong, and fireproof used asbestos in countless construction products, starting in the 1920s. However, asbestos-caused diseases such as mesothelioma often take years to develop. It took decades for the public to recognize the dangers of asbestos, and by then, extensive damage had already been done. 

The public knew asbestos was in insulation, roofing materials, cement shingles, cement, floor tiles, and spray fireproofing. But there were many other asbestos-containing materials, including:

• Acoustical panels

• Duct connectors

• Bonding cement

• Mastics

• Floor adhesive

• Flexboard

When these construction materials are cut, sawed, sanded, or otherwise disturbed, microscopic asbestos fibers are released into the air where they can be inhaled or swallowed. This left nearly every worker at a jobsite at risk for asbestos exposure, even if they did not come into direct contact with the asbestos-containing product. And sadly, many of these workers brought the fibers home on their clothes, unknowingly exposing their families to the toxic mineral.

While most construction workers were not aware of the dangers of asbestos in the years it was heavily used, many of the companies that manufactured asbestos products did. There is ample evidence that the asbestos industry put profits ahead of people by actively suppressing evidence linking asbestos with serious illnesses such as mesothelioma. Construction workers are still at risk: Some 1.3 million of them are exposed to asbestos annually.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and believe you were exposed to asbestos at a construction jobsite, you may be entitled to financial compensation. To learn more about your legal options, please contact Sokolove Law for a free case evaluation. Asbestos law has become a crucial asset in the fight against the willful negligence that exposed people to asbestos.