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OSHA cites 2 companies for asbestos-related illness exposure

Whenever construction workers in Missouri and other states are working on projects that involve renovating or demolishing older buildings, they might be in danger of being exposed to asbestos. Such exposure can cause an asbestos-related illness because asbestos particles are inhaled by an exposed worker. In most cases, the result is severe fibrosis, and workers may also face the risk of developing mesothelioma, which is cancer of the pleura.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently cited a general contractor and a roofing subcontractor in another state for allowing workers to be exposed to asbestos while the roof of a commercial building was being replaced. The workers were tasked with demolishing, removing and replacing the entire roofing system of a commercial building. OSHA said it is unacceptable for workers to be exposed to asbestos without being adequately informed of the hazards posed by the deadly substance.

Investigators determined that the workers had not received training in the safe handling of asbestos, nor were they provided with personal protective equipment such as clothing and respirators. The agency said the companies failed to conduct assessments to determine potential asbestos exposure. Furthermore, both companies had failed to establish programs to deal with respiratory protection.

Missouri workers -- along with workers nationwide – who are exposed to asbestos may not notice the symptoms of an asbestos-related illness for some time after exposure. It develops in time, and although workers may pursue workers compensation benefits, it may be difficult to establish an onset date of the disease. Some workers who suffer long-term occupational diseases choose to retain the services of an experienced workers' compensation attorney to pursue compensation on their behalves.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, "Construction companies cited for exposing workers to asbestos", Alexandra Kukulka, Oct. 20, 2015

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