Open a newspaper or browse through the latest news on Yahoo or any other internet search engine and you’re likely to dig up at least a few current stories about asbestos negligence cases in the United States. Sadly, most of the time, the stories involve a negligent employer/owner/executive and an unsuspecting employee who now has to face life with the threat of asbestos disease hanging over his/her head.
Recently, media outlets profiled the story of a maintenance worker at a large veterans’ hospital in south Texas who brought suit against the facility for the unsafe handling of toxic asbestos, including actions (or non-actions) that put him and others at risk for exposure.
The plaintiff claimed that hospital administrators forced him and other employees to perform daily tasks in an area that was known to contain asbestos. He also saw other maintenance workers cutting through drywall that clearly contained asbestos. In no instance were the workers provided with protective gear while on the job.
In addition, the employee who filed suit claimed that all asbestos-containing refuse was discarded in regular trash bins where other unsuspecting individuals could come in contact with the toxin.
Unfortunately, stories like this aren’t rare. It’s a common disbelief that because asbestos-containing materials are no longer manufactured or sold that the danger has dissipated. That couldn’t be further from the truth. While many owners/supervisors of old facilities have been proactive in removing or encapsulating any potentially dangerous asbestos, the material in its hazardous state remains in countless buildings throughout the United States.
Sadly, it’s often up to workers to be diligent about protecting themselves. If you are employed in a profession that often encounters asbestos-containing materials, you MUST remain on the lookout for asbestos. Remember, you have a right to say “no” when asked to work in an environment that might compromise your health. You also have a right to ask for protective masks, respirators, or other items that can prevent the inhalation of asbestos fibers.
Asbestos lawsuits have grown in number because of such negligence, a problem that has existed for decades. For much of the 20th century, workers were led to believe that asbestos – used in abundance from the 1940s through the 1970s – was safe, yet proof of the mineral’s hazards have been noted for literally centuries. Now, as workers from that era reach their later years, many now know that they were deceived by their employers. Mesothelioma is a part of that reality. It might be part of yours, too.
If you believe you were negligently exposed to asbestos during your work as a tradesman, including plumbers, pipefitters, electricians, mill workers, shipyard workers, power plant employees, and others, take time to examine your options as you begin the tough journey through the struggle that is asbestos-related cancer. Mesothelioma victims can often obtain compensation for their suffering.