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Fines issued for exposing workers to asbestos-related illness

Construction company owners in California have a duty to provide safe work environments to employees. Unfortunately, many workers are not made aware of the health risks to which they are exposed. Two companies were recently cited for exposing their workers to asbestos-related illness at a building project in another state.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined workers were unaware of the fact that they were exposed to asbestos or the dangers related to asbestos. Their tasks involved the removal of several materials that contained asbestos, including floor tiles and insulation. Inspectors concluded that the company was fully aware of the risks of working in the presence of asbestos. Nevertheless, no protection was offered, and it was also determined that workers were threatened with dismissal if they spoke with officials.

Employees must be supplied with respirators to avoid inhalation of asbestos particles, and training in the proper use of the safety equipment must be provided. Asbestos exposure can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. The symptoms of these illnesses may not become evident until years after being exposed. Willfully exposing workers to these life-threatening hazards is unacceptable.

California workers who are suffering from an asbestos-related illness will likely face high medical costs of ongoing medical treatment. Because the onset of the illness is typically difficult to pinpoint, affected workers may need assistance in obtaining financial relief through the workers' compensation system or otherwise. Many workers choose to utilize the services of an experienced workers' compensation attorney to support them in pursuing the benefits to which they are entitled. These typically include medical expenses and lost income, but in cases in which long-term medical conditions are suffered, additional compensation may be awarded.

Source: environmental-expert.com, "OSHA Imposes Costly Asbestos Violations for Two Affiliated Construction Companies", Sept. 8, 2015

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