It’s hard to imagine another word that has caused more concern when uttered for such a long time. This word has caused more project delays and cost over runs than any other that comes to mind. We are still constantly bombarded with advertisements from personal injury lawyers, promising you monetary relief from a product that was for the most part banned from use in 1989. In 1989 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule under the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) to prohibit the manufacture, importation, processing and distribution of asbestos-containing products. The ruling was overturned in 1993, however, allowing for certain asbestos-containing products to be manufactured in the United States. Over 20-years later we are still dealing with government regulations to handle asbestos. Because asbestos presents a significant risk to human health when released to air, asbestos is considered a hazardous air pollutant regulated under the EPA National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) regulations.
Employees' Rights to Protection From Asbestos Exposure
If you work with or around significant amounts of asbestos as part of your job -- or if you're worried about exposure to asbestos in the workplace -- talk to your supervisor or union about any health risks and the steps that are being taken to minimize those risks.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other workplace safety agencies are supposed to carefully regulate and monitor asbestos exposure on the job -- they even set permissible exposure limits for different kinds of industries. So chances are, if your job does involve exposure to significant levels of asbestos, your employer is legally required to take certain steps to protect you and your coworkers from any health risks involving asbestos.
Depending on the industry you work in and the specifics of your job, you may be legally entitled to receive -- and your employer may be legally obligated to provide -- the following kinds of on-the-job protections from asbestos exposure:
- training of employees who will be working with and around asbestos
- properly ventilated workspaces
- monitoring of employees for asbestos exposure levels (including daily monitoring for workers involved in the removal of asbestos-containing materials)
- warning signs and instructions in areas where asbestos-related work is performed
- protective clothing like coveralls, gloves, foot coverings, face shields, and goggles
- protective equipment like respirators
- showers and other post-exposure precautions, and
- medical examinations for certain workers who are exposed to high levels of asbestos.
In your home or your business it is important to test for asbestos. Your health is important