Asbestos in the workplace is such a significant problem that the federal government’s safety agencies, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have created many regulations and guidelines regarding asbestos in the workplace. Together these regulations are meant to protect workers from the toxic effects of excessive asbestos in the workplace — effects such as lung cancer, asbestosis, mesothelioma cancer , pulmonary fibrosis, and other serious disorders.

Significant Workplace Asbestos Exposure

According to OSHA, about 1.3 million workers in the construction industry and general industry are exposed to significant levels of asbestos in the workplace. The worst exposure occurs when the asbestos is disturbed; the asbestos fibers can then be released into the air, where they may be inhaled or they may stick to a worker’s clothing, shoes, skin and hair.

The highest levels of asbestos in the workplace are at sites where asbestos-containing products are being removed, since the removal process disturbs the asbestos. Unfortunately, asbestos in older buildings that are being demolished or renovated is a very common problem.

Manufacturing Asbestos Containing Products

A second major source of asbestos in the workplace is the manufacturing of asbestos-containing products such as:

  • Insulation
  • Other building materials
  • Textiles
  • Friction products
  • Automotive brakes and clutches

Controlling Asbestos in the Workplace

Although asbestos was removed as a component of many products by the 1980s, there are many other products whose purposes necessitate the use of asbestos, and the federal government has developed strict regulations for dealing with asbestos in the workplaces where these products are made or handled.

Engineering controls, personal protective equipment, and administrative actions are the three main ways that OSHA and EPA regulations help to control asbestos in the workplace. An example of an engineering control is the use of a ventilation system on site. Personal protective equipment can include respiratory protection and adequate clothing (including a requirement that workers launder and leave their work clothes at the worksite rather than taking them home). Administrative actions include policies that limit the amount of time that workers handle asbestos and providing showers at the worksite. Asbestos exposure limits are ussually to high and the workers are exposed to deadly fibers.

If You’ve Dealt with Asbestos in the Workplace

Many people dealing with an asbestos cancer disease such as lung cancer or mesothelioma cancer realize that their exposure to asbestos in their former workplace is probably the source of their disease. If this scenario sounds familiar to you, contact mesothelioma treatment centers today. We’ll be happy to provide you with information regarding financial, medical and other support resources available to you.

Asbestos at Workplace (english) / Asbesto en el Trabajo (spanish)