Asbestos exposure is, at least for the most part, associated with industrial jobs, such as construction, chemical plants, and factory workers. Yet, post office workers are among the numerous workers who’ve faced asbestos exposure in the past. Some post office workers continue to face the problem today, and are regularly put at risk of developing life-threatening illnesses.
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The EPA and Post Offices
In 1979, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed strict regulations on asbestos use at job sites. The majority of job sites, including post offices, phased asbestos out of its products. Yet, most post offices that were built prior to the EPA’s regulations still remain. What this means is that there are a number of post offices that were built with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) that are still in use today.
If post office facilities aren’t maintained properly, the older offices may present asbestos exposure, not only to workers, but also to guests who come to the post offices to simply pick up mail or drop off a package. Asbestos exposure is the leading cause of toxic illnesses such as malignant mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer.
Government Watchdog Group Exposes Asbestos at Post Offices
In 2016, watchdogs for the government revealed that there are numerous post office across the U.S. that are possible exposing workers to a variety of toxins, including asbestos. According to a report provided by The Daily Caller,
“The Postal Service must improve adherence to building maintenance, safety and security standards, and employee working condition requirements at its retail facilities. cleaning and general maintenance and repairs” and “concerns for health, safety and security.”
The report also added that most of the post offices had “locked or blocked emergency exits, asbestos and mold, improper storage of flammable materials, insect infestation, trip hazards, and exposed electrical outlets and switches, as well as sanitary issues.”
Although the names of the post offices weren’t provided, earlier this year, a Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, postal worker contacted a local newspaper, The Daily Tribune, and alerted them about a potential asbestos problem at the W. Alabama Street location. According to the story, the complaint was submitted after a number of workers began experiencing respiratory illnesses and chronic coughing.
Local postmaster Cindy Anderson responded to the complaint, and indicated that she conducted a 6-month investigation. After signing a form indicating that she understood that post office building was identified as containing asbestos, she added,
“I conducted my 6-month inspection. I have identified damaged tiles. I have been in contact with Dallas Safety. We have temporarily repaired tiles as instructed by Dallas safety. I have reported to facility for landlord to repair.”
The after the newspaper questioned the post office about potential asbestos exposures, the post office workers were reportedly required to watch a video on the hazards of asbestos, as well as warnings that they should never talk to the media about any asbestos issues.
A few days later, Arlene A. Sanchez, with the Dallas, Fort Worth and Oklahoma Districts of the U.S. Postal Service, wrote that the post office works with OSHA to identify and correct any asbestos-related problems immediately. According to Sanchez,
“During the most recent visual inspection which was conducted less than two weeks ago, we discovered damage to some floor tiles in the facility. All OSHA regulations are being followed and the areas where damage was found have been treated, using an interim employee-protective measure which will remain in place until abatement is completed.
We are currently working with the building owner regarding the abatement. Signs advising that asbestos is present in the facility are posted. All work-related illnesses and injuries are handled through the Office of Workers’ Compensation.”
Yet, when The Daily Tribune reached out to OSHA, there was no report of the organization working with that particular post office, nor had anyone from the post office notified them about asbestos. Meanwhile, post office workers stated that the loose tiles, which were built with ACMs, were simply repaired with cardboard.
OSHA Asbestos Violation at an Indiana Post Office
In April 2016, OSHA placed a proposed fine of nearly $50 million on a southern Indiana post office, for violating numerous asbestos laws. The West Baden Springs post office, specifically, has allegedly:
- Failed to provide safety training to their employees regarding the dangers of asbestos
- Failed to properly clean up messes and spills around areas in which asbestos could be disrupted
- Failed to label areas where asbestos was present
- Failed to use dry sweeping
Sadly, the Indiana post office is just one among a number of post offices across the U.S. that continue to place postal workers at risk. Asbestos contains microscopic fibers that’s undetectable to the human eyes. The fibers are also odorless and tasteless, and are easily ingested/inhaled withing being noticed. Once asbestos fibers are inhaled, while the body may be able to dispel of some of them, other fibers become lodged in the body and attach themselves to the linings of major organs.
Once the fibers are attached, they begin to scar organs’ linings over time, and eventually, cancerous tumors develops. These tumors lead to conditions that currently have no cure and are considered toxic and fatal. If you or a loved one work for the post office, specifically in buildings that were built prior to the early to mid 1980s, it’s highly recommended to undergo routine medical check-ups. Be certain to tell your physician that you may have been exposed to asbestos.
Additional Help and Resources for Asbestos Victims
Remember, if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestos-related cancer, there is a good chance you qualify for significant compensation.Remember to fill out our from to get your free Financial Compensation Packet, with information on asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers in your area.