The facts have been clear for a long time. Many individuals who were exposed to asbestos worked for companies that knew asbestos was dangerous yet continued its use. Many of these same companies were privy to reports from company doctors noting an alarming rate of respiratory diseases among those who were exposed to the toxin, yet internal memos discovered decades later often show an eagerness to cover up this fact, with executives seeming to care little about employees’ health and instructing that no changes be made.
Of course, in cases where employees became attuned to the dangers and tried to warn others, these asbestos whistleblowers were often punished. This still happens, as is evident from a recent story about a maintenance worker at Yellowstone National Park who has been receiving poor reviews and a refusal to renew his contract since reporting that he and five others were exposed to asbestos at the century-old lodge located at the park.
According to an Associated Press report, the employee, Jon Kline, claims he and the others encountered damaged, friable asbestos when they worked on steam lines wrapped in asbestos at the park’s Old Faithful Inn, which was built in 1903 and is the largest log structure in the world.
“We were just told, ‘It’s safe, don’t worry about it,’” Kline said. “It was pretty egregious, in my opinion.”
After the men worked on the pipes, a certified asbestos contractor came in to clean up the mess before guests arrived, notes the report. But for those six individuals who were wearing less-than-adequate safety gear, the damage was already done.
Nobody alerted the workers to the asbestos as they tore into walls to reach ruptures in the heating lines, Kline explained. “They should have been aware of it, based on the age of the building and based on a database that exists. Folks knew that there was asbestos in other rooms in that wing, so it was fair to think that there would be asbestos in the rooms that we worked in,” he added.
As a result, Xanterra Parks and Resorts, the company that runs Old Faithful Inn and several other National Park lodges, was cited for workplace safety violations and ordered to pay $15,300 in fines last September.
Kline and his colleagues aren’t the only asbestos whistleblowers that have caused problems for themselves by reporting asbestos exposure. Attorneys have encountered countless similar scenarios over the past few decades among mesothelioma victims. However, this should not deter the injured from filing suit against those responsible for their asbestos-caused cancer, lawyers acknowledge.
If you know you were negligently exposed to asbestos on the job you can seek compensation by filing suit against the responsible parties. If you’re unsure as to whether your case is a viable one, schedule an appointment with a local attorney, who can help you gather the specifics of your potential case and determine whether or not to move forward. For best results, be sure you arrive at your appointment with all the facts in hand, including any documentation you might have that attests to your exposure.