A large asbestos warning sign placed at a local high school in Clements, Alabama has both parents and students worried for their safety. Although the sign was set out to make sure no one enters an area of the school where construction is taking place, it was enough of a concern to have parents calling school officials and students running for cover.
According to Clements High School, a nationally certified asbestos crew is in the process of removing tiles from one of the wings at the school, and since the school was built when asbestos was still allowed during construction projects, there is a good chance that asbestos in the floor tiles will be disrupted during the process. However, high school principal Keith Hairell told local reporters that students and parents have nothing to worry about:
“The students were mistaken because it said danger respirators and breathing devices needed in this area. They did not understand that meant the area behind the signs that has been sealed off, not the hallways in which they’re walking,” Hairell said.
Superintendent Tom Sisk agreed with Hairell, stating that all students will be safe while the expected year-long project continues:
“At no time are kids at risk. We wouldn’t be allowed to do it first off. The state wouldn’t let us do it. Federal would let us do it. I want to reassure families that the process is the process but it’s a safe one,” Sisk said.
Regardless, it’s important to note that according to National Cancer Institute (NCI), there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Although students are cautioned to never enter the work area, parents and guardians have the right to make certain that all steps are being taken to ensure their children are safe. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), not only must all asbestos materials be handled according to state and federal regulations, but parents should be notified and made aware at all times of any renovations that will disrupt asbestos in schools. In addition, parents must be provided any emergency evacuation plans and notifications of any asbestos that may have leaked into the school.
An influx of asbestos lawsuits have surfaced in recent years after people who were exposed to asbestos while working over 20 years ago developed life-threatening diseases such as malignant mesothelioma and asbestosis. Consequently, many people are under the assumption that asbestos exposure only happens to those working directly around the dangerous mineral. Yet, if asbestos fibers become loose, even in schools, students and staff alike are at risk, which is why schools must take every precaution, including displaying warning signs and blocking off areas where asbestos may be disrupted.
Keep in mind that not only do schools have the legal obligation to keep students safe from asbestos, but if you work in any building that was constructed with asbestos, you have the right be informed and kept safe should a renovation or disruption occur. If you’ve been victim to asbestos exposure because of the negligence of another party, contact our leading asbestos attorneys today for a no-obligation case evaluation. We’ll be happy to help you understand your legal options and what you may be entitled to.