In most instances, employers must ensure that all workers are protected as much as possible while working around asbestos. However, it’s always a good idea to understand where and how you may com into contact with asbestos, and in turn, educate yourself not only on how to protect yourself from asbestos fibers, but the laws in your state regarding working around toxic minerals.
What Workers Are at Risk of Asbestos Exposure?
Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed strict regulations on asbestos use during the late 1970s, it was never completely banned. Asbestos is still used in a number of products. Yet, workers who face the biggest risks are the ones who work around asbestos-containing products, materials, and buildings that were created during a time when the dangerous mineral was used heavily.
For example, construction workers, home renovators, electricians, plumbers, and any other worker who works on older homes may be at risk for asbestos. Prior to the late 1970s, many houses were built with asbestos-containing wires, floors, ceilings, shutters, roofs, attic insulation, and more.
Another high-risk group is maintenance workers, especially those who repair old appliances, such as furnace. In addition, auto mechanics, firefighters, shipyard workers, industrial workers, and even hospital workers are at risk of asbestos exposure.
Protecting Yourself Against Asbestos
One of the first things you should in order to protect yourself against asbestos while working is to find out what products and/or areas of your workspace contain asbestos. For example, shipyard workers who repair older vessels are generally at risk no matter part of the ship they work on. Electricians may come into contact when cutting wires or drilling into asbestos-containing walls. If you have any concerns prior to starting work, be sure to address them beforehand to your employer or with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). For any other assistance, feel free to contact us 800-694-4856.
After understanding that you may be at risk of asbestos exposure, speak with your employer about obtaining proper protective gear, such as coveralls, gloves, a breathing respirator, and protective eyewear. If you’re self employed, make sure you not only buy protective gear, but that you understand your state’s laws regarding working around asbestos.
For further protection, be certain to have clean water nearby at all times, and a faucet to wash your hands and face as much as possible. Never bring your coveralls or any other protective gear home with you unless everything has been thoroughly washed in hot water and contained.
Asbestos fibers are tiny, odorless, and colorless, and can easily land on the skin and in the hair. Taking a shower as soon as possible, preferably before returning home will help ensure your own protection as well as anyone who lives with you.
It’s also important to note that OSHA only allows a certain amount of time to be spent working around asbestos. According to OSHA guidelines, asbestos exposure has to be be limited to 0.2 fibers per cubic centimeter of air throughout the course of 8 hours per day. Workers must also be able to take breaks as needed to clean their work gear and breath fresh air.
Additional Information and Resources for Asbestos Victims
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other illness related to asbestos, you may be eligible for substantial compensation. There is currently over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, set up for those who are victims to asbestos-related diseases. Use our free Asbestos Attorney Locator Tool today to find a leading mesothelioma attorney in your area.