Colorado workers in certain industries seem to have the highest risk of asbestos exposure — construction workers, mechanics and those who repair ships. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that no level of exposure to this naturally occurring substance is considered safe. Inhalation can ultimately result in permanent disability or death.
The difficulty with asbestos is that the fibers are so small, they are not seen with the naked eye. A worker can inhale them without even realizing it. The dangers associated with inhaling these fibers are from scar tissue that builds up in the lungs, lung cancer and a disease called mesothelioma (which attacks the lining of the stomach or lungs).
Because asbestos exposure can easily lead to death, OSHA has promulgated certain regulations to protect workers who may be exposed to asbestos. Protective clothing and other gear are just the first line of defense. Those who work around asbestos are required to attend certain training, and while in the areas being worked, constant monitoring is required to be sure that legal limits for both air quality and exposure times are not exceeded. If those limits are exceeded, workers are to be observed by medical personnel.
Most Colorado businesses take the proper precautions to protect their workers. Unfortunately, accidents still occur. When it is determined that a worker suffers a permanent disability or death due to asbestos exposure, workers’ compensation benefits may be available. Benefits cover items such as medical treatment and other medical expenses, loss of income and disability. If a family loses a loved one to an asbestos-related illness, they may receive benefits as well.
Source: osha.gov, “Safety and Health Topics: Asbestos“, Oct. 17, 2014