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9/26/21 6:15 AM Regina Hunter

Workplace regulations concerning asbestos exposure appeared in the 1970s. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) led these procedures, setting firm standards on their approved levels of asbestos exposure for occupational employees on job sites. A specific safety precaution OSHA implements is the required labeling of any asbestos product at worksites. They also enforce workers to wear the proper personal protective equipment to prevent mesothelioma for construction workers.

 

OSHA confronted three major asbestos occupational endangerments by applying standards for the general industry, shipyard employment sector, and the construction industry. Employers must administer training and personal exposure monitoring in workplaces where there is a threat of asbestos exposure. The International Labour Organization estimated that there were 651,279 deaths a year related to hazardous substances.

 

Asbestos is a human carcinogen that causes asbestos diseases and mesothelioma cancer. For construction workers who are continuously in contact with asbestos, their risks of developing illnesses increases. Further, if workers are building, cutting, handling, or disturbing asbestos materials, they could be forcing the microscopic fibers to contaminate the air quality.

 

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For construction workers, asbestos products range from ceiling tiles to joint packing. Here are some more examples of what construction materials could contain asbestos:

  • Insulation

  • Cement

  • Paint

  • Roofing Materials

  • Plaster

  • Drywall

  • Vinyl floor tiles

 

Employees may be roughly handling these products every day. While not every construction site will have asbestos, it is a known additive in these types of products.

 

There are preventative steps that companies are expected to follow. Read below to learn about them:

  1. Employees should wear the appropriate equipment and clothing to maintain respiratory health. It’s up to companies to provide this for their workers.

  2. It’s recommended that workers change out of their work clothes at the end of their shifts. This prevents pollutants and toxins from coming home with them and spreading.

  3. In addition to removing infected clothing, employees should shower before leaving work. In manufacturing companies, or occupations exposing workers to harsh chemicals, showers may be available for workers to do this.

  4. It’s also best for employees to leave their soiled clothes at work rather than bringing them home. Just as taking off clothing and putting on clean clothes reduces contact with workplace chemicals, keeping these tainted items at the site promotes safe boundaries.

  5. Workers should have separate areas for their non-work and work clothes.

  6. If employees have families or roommates, their clothes should not be washed together to avoid contamination.

  7. Any tools, scraps, packaging, and equipment that are used or come in contact with asbestos at work should never be taken home.

  8. Employees are typically the only ones allowed to be on-site and should avoid inviting family and friends to visit if they work with asbestos. The asbestos fibers are invisible to the naked eye and most people don’t realize they’re being exposed.

 

Among the types of occupations at-risk for mesothelioma, construction workers are considered more vulnerable. The CDC approximates that 1.3 million construction workers are exposed to asbestos annually. In the construction industry, mesothelioma is a real threat. OSHA both manages the acceptable asbestos levels in the workplace and imposes these guidelines on employers. Due to the continued manufacturing of asbestos products in the US, OSHA is critical to protecting workers.

 

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