Asbestos was once commonly used in all sorts of products and buildings. However, with government acknowledgment of the risks asbestos carried for the workers exposed to it came increasingly strict restrictions on worker exposure.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there is no safe level of occupational exposure to asbestos. In addition to providing workers with safety equipment, employers who require workers to handle asbestos either to make products or remediate it in existing buildings should provide those workers with decontamination opportunities as well.
Careful cleaning is necessary to remove asbestos
Whether you work in asbestos abatement for school buildings or you work in one of the few industries that still utilize asbestos for products, your employer should provide you with protective gear such as a respirator and hazardous materials suit to keep the asbestos particulates off your body and out of your lungs.
Exposure to airborne asbestos could later lead to severe medical conditions, and gear is critical to keep workers safe. However, stripping off that protective gear at the end of a shift or project could put you at risk for inhaling the particles that have settled on it.
As such, your employer should also provide you with decontamination stations where you can shower to remove the asbestos before you take your gear off. If you can’t properly decontaminate, you are at risk of inhaling asbestos when you take off your gear.
Workers exposed to asbestos due to inadequate safety precautions by their employer, including a failure to provide decontamination stations, may need to take legal action against their former employer if they develop mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses.