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Mesothelioma Help Center - Asbestos Workers

Asbestos Workers Linked to Asbestos and Mesothelioma Cancer

Asbestos Workers: Asbestos was a popular material used widely in construction and many other industries. If asbestos fibers are enclosed or tightly bound in a product, for example in asbestos siding or asbestos floor tiles, there are no significant health risks. Asbestos poses health risks only when fibers are present in the air that people breathe.

Background

Asbestos is the generic name for a variety of fibrous minerals found naturally in rock formations around the world. Because asbestos fibers are strong, durable and non-combustible, they were widely used by industry, mainly in construction and friction materials. Commercial asbestos fibers belong in two broad mineralogical groups: serpentine (chrysotile) and amphibole (tremolite, actinolyte and others).

Amphibole asbestos often contains more iron and resists acid and extremely high temperatures. Because of this, it has been heavily used in industrial furnaces and heating systems. However when inhaled, amphibole fibers stay much longer in the lungs than chrysotile fibers and they are more likely to inflict damage and cause disease, including cancer. Accordingly, amphibole asbestos has been drastically controlled and largely replaced.

Chrysotile is the only serpentine asbestos that is found in almost all asbestos based products available today and is the main form of asbestos still mined. Chrysotile is different from the amphiboles both structurally and chemically. It is generally accepted that chrysotile asbestos is less potent and does less damage to the lungs than the amphiboles.

How much asbestos is in a product does not indicate its health risk. If the asbestos fibers are enclosed or tightly bound in a compound, there is no significant health risk. One of the main problems with asbestos came from sprayed or "friable" (easily broken up) amphibole asbestos used in buildings until the 1970s. People working in construction, maintenance or in the renovation of older buildings should be particularly careful when handling this asbestos.

Sources of Asbestos

Asbestos Workers Linked to Asbestos and Mesothelioma Cancer

Occupational Exposure to Asbetsos: The risks are greatest for workers in industries which produce and use asbestos, such as mining and milling. In the past, workers in these environments were exposed to 100 - 1,000 times more asbestos than today's workers. Today's strict standards limit workers' exposure and the ban of most uses of amphibole asbestos have reduced the risks.

During renovations and repairs to older buildings, construction workers, tradespeople and other building maintenance workers may be exposed to very high concentrations of asbestos fibers. The environment and work methods of these occupations are more difficult to control than fixed workplaces, but most tradespeople are trained in the proper handling of asbestos-containing materials.
Environmental

Negligible levels of asbestos fibers are found in the soil, water and air, both naturally and from man-made sources. Asbestos concentrations in the air in rural areas are about ten times lower than those in larger cities, which are about 1,000 times lower than levels accepted in today's asbestos-related jobs. With such low exposure, environmental risks are negligible.

Due to natural erosion, high concentrations of chrysotile asbestos fibers may be found in some raw water supplies. Conventional water treatment methods can substantially reduce asbestos levels and there is no evidence that swallowed chrysotile fibers are a health hazard.

Asbestos Workers Linked to Asbestos and Mesothelioma Cancer

Buildings and Homes: Because it is a valuable reinforcing, insulating and fire-proofing material, asbestos was used widely in construction materials such as insulation board, asbestos cement, and floor and ceiling tiles. These products are very dense and do not release significant amounts of fibers under normal use. However, fibers may be released if these products are cut or damaged.

Asbestos fibre concentrations in the air in buildings are usually about the same as in the air outside, and are not a significant risk. However, levels may be higher if friable asbestos materials are disturbed.

There is also concern about vermiculite insulation which may contain small amounts of amphibole asbestos, principally tremolite or actinolite.

These amphibole fibers may cause health risks if disturbed. However, there is currently no evidence of risk to your health if the insulation is sealed behind wallboards and floorboards, isolated in an attic, or otherwise kept from exposure to the home or interior environment.

Asbestos Workers Linked to Asbestos and Mesothelioma Cancer

The Health Risks of Asbestos Workers: Asbestos poses health risks only when fibers are present in the air that people breathe. How exposure to asbestos can affect you depends on:

  • the concentration of asbestos fibers in the air;
  • how long the exposure lasted;
  • how often you were exposed;
  • the size of the asbestos fibers inhaled; or
  • the amount of time since the initial exposure.

When inhaled in significant quantities, asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis (a scarring of the lungs which makes breathing difficult), mesothelioma (a rare cancer of the lining of the chest or abdominal cavity) and lung cancer. The link between exposure to asbestos and other types of cancers is less clear.

Smoking, combined with inhaled asbestos, greatly increases the risk of lung cancer.

Asbestos Workers Linked to Asbestos and Mesothelioma Cancer

Asbestos Workers - Minimizing Your Risk: Construction and maintenance workers should avoid creating asbestos dust from scraping, brushing, rubbing or cutting damaged insulation. Insulation damage should be reported to the appropriate authority, such as the Occupational

Health and Safety Manager. If you work in this area, determine whether asbestos is present before beginning work and take appropriate precautionary measures.

Public and commercial building owners should keep an inventory of asbestos-containing materials to inform users, authorities and contractors.

Homeowners should receive expert advice before removing materials that may contain asbestos. If you think your home may contain asbestos, check regularly for signs of wear or damage. However, you can't always tell just by looking at a material. If in doubt, have it analyzed by a qualified professional, who can be found by looking up experts in "asbestos abatement /removal".

If you must handle small amounts of damaged asbestos-containing materials, follow these steps:

  • Keep other people and pets away, and seal off the work area
  • Wet the material to reduce dust, making sure it is not in contact with electricity
  • If possible, do not cut or damage the materials further and do not break them up
  • Clean the work area afterwards using a damp cloth, not a vacuum cleaner, and seal the asbestos waste and cloth in a plastic bag.
  • Check with your local municipality on how to dispose of asbestos-containing waste
  • Wash or dispose of clothing and shower after finishing the job.

Before you start any work you must make sure you know where all asbestos containing materials are.

The Health and Safety Executive says that the most common uses for asbestos are:

  • Sprayed asbestos and asbestos loose packaging - generally used as fire breaks in ceiling voids;
  • Moulded or preformed sprayed coatings and lagging - generally used in thermal insulation of pipes and boilers;
  • Sprayed asbestos mixed with hydrated asbestos cement - generally used as fire protection in ducts, firebreaks, panels, partitions, soffit boards, ceiling panels and around structural steel work;
  • Insulating boards used for fire protection, thermal insulation, wall partitions and ducts;
  • Asbestos cement products which can be compressed into flat or corrugated sheets; corrugated sheets are largely used as roofing and wall cladding; other asbestos cement products include gutters, rainwater pipes, soil stacks and cold water cisterns;
  • Some reinforced plastics, mastics and sealants;
  • Millboard, paper and paper products used for the insulation of electrical equipment.
  • Certain textured coatings, decorative plasters and paints;
  • Asbestos ropes, gaskets and cloth;
  • Flues;

The duty to manage is directed at those who manage non-domestic premises: the people with responsibility for protecting others who work in such premises, or use them in other ways, from the risks to ill-health that exposure to asbestos causes.

It requires the person who has the duty to:

  • Take reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in non-domestic premises, and if so, its amount, where it is and what condition it is in;
  • Presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not;
  • Make, and keep up-to-date, a record of the location and condition of the asbestos containing materials - or materials which are presumed to contain asbestos;
  • Assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibers from the materials identified;
  • Prepare a plan that sets out in detail how the risks from these materials will be managed;
  • Take the necessary steps to put the plan into action;
  • Periodically review and monitor the plan and the arrangements to act on it so that the plan remains relevant and up-to-date
  • Provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them.

Asbestos Workers Linked to Asbestos and Mesothelioma Cancer

Are you in charge?

Asbestos Workers - Surveying for Asbestos

If you are in charge or self-employed it is up to you to search the site for asbestos before work begins, or employ a suitably trained person to carry out the survey. If you are employing someone to do the survey for you, make sure they are accredited (www.ukas.com gives information on accredited firms). Remember you can only be 100 percent sure a suspected substance does not contain asbestos after laboratory analysis.

If you find asbestos containing-materials you need to assess the condition of the material and the likelihood of it being disturbed. You will also have to make a record of where the asbestos is located, its type, its form, the amount of it and what sort of condition it is in. This record has to be kept on the premises and available to be viewed at all times. If you are unsure if something contains asbestos, always presume it does until proved otherwise. If the asbestos present is asbestos insulation, asbestos coating or asbestos insulation board, contact an HSE-licensed contractor. The person in charge of the job has to decide if the work needs to be carried out by a specialist, or if those on site can do the work.

Your responsibilities

If you are in charge of a job, you need to know how to deal with asbestos and when you need to call in a specialist licensed contractor. You are responsible for ensuring those working beneath you know the risks and precautions they should take when dealing with asbestos, and know how to use respiratory protective equipment. As the person in charge you have to prevent exposure to asbestos or reduce it to an acceptable level.

When working with asbestos you need to provide clean protective clothing, respirators that fit properly and are in good working order, training on asbestos and instruction on reducing asbestos dust in the air.

If you are responsible for disposing of asbestos waste, it will have to be taken to a licensed tip in accordance with the Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005. Asbestos waste has to be double-bagged in heavy-duty polythene bags and clearly labelled as containing the substance with the label prescribed for asbestos.

Consult safety representatives if you need help in developing measures to ensure the health and safety of your employees.

What do I do if I find asbestos on site?

Although any asbestos-containing materials should have been identified before work begins, there may be some hidden materials on site that are not found until work starts. If you think you have found asbestos, STOP WORK IMMEDIATELY and alert people to its presence. Asbestos is not an easy substance to identify, so presume a material contains asbestos until proven otherwise. A sample needs to be tested by a specialist laboratory to confirm if asbestos is present.

Asbestos Workers - Respiratory Protective Equipment

If you are working in a situation where asbestos could be present you should be issued with respiratory protective equipment. Respiratory protective equipment includes facemasks, hoods and helmets worn to protect your lungs from asbestos. The type of respirator you use will depend on the amount of asbestos present and the type of job. Make sure you use the right equipment for the job, or you could expose yourself to asbestos fibers.

MAKE SURE YOUR RESPIRATOR FITS AND WORKS CORRECTLY.

If it does not fit, asbestos fibers will enter your lungs and you will be putting your health at serious risk. Your employer (or yourself if self-employed) has to train you how to fit, clean, look after and use respiratory protective equipment properly, and keep this training up-to-date with refresher courses. Tests need to be carried out to make sure that your facemask fits properly (it is an employer's duty to make sure you have a face fit test before using any kind of respirator) as if you have a beard (even stubble), wear glasses or have sideburns, certain types of respirators may not fit adequately. NEVER TAKE OFF YOUR RESPIRATOR IN A CONTAMINATED AREA, the damage asbestos dust causes is irreversible and may cost you your life.

How can I protect myself if I am exposed to asbestos?

Along with the use of respirators you can take further action to prevent contact with asbestos fibers:

  • Dampening down asbestos-containing materials can lower the amount of fibers in the air; use of hand tools over power tools (power tools create more dust, it is not advisable to use them on an asbestos-containing material);
  • Clear up asbestos dust using a 'Type H' vacuum cleaner or damp cloths;
  • Clean up, as you go - don't let asbestos-containing waste build up;
  • Wash your hands and face when you take a break and at the end of work;
  • Don't take home any overalls, worn while you have been in contact with asbestos
  • Put asbestos waste into a suitable sealed container.
  • Asbestos waste has to be double-bagged in heavy-duty polythene bags and clearly labelled as containing the substance with the label prescribed for asbestos;
  • Don't eat or drink in the work area;
  • Don't smoke

Call us toll free at 800.291.0963 or use quick contact form located at the right of this page and we will contact you within 24 hours.

ASBESTOS WORKERS - Note of Urgency

  • The first lawsuits against asbestos manufacturers were in 1929. Since then, many lawsuits have been filed against asbestos manufacturers and employers, for neglecting to implement safety measures after the links between asbestos, asbestosis, and mesothelioma became known (some reports seem to place this as early as 1898).
  • A good Mesothelioma attorney understands the unique complexities involved in this kind of litigation lawsuit, including asbestos product identification, specific asbestos-related medical issues, and specific time constraints that narrow the window of opportunity to file a claim.
  • It is important to find the right Mesothelioma lawyer before your state’s statutes of limitations expires, leaving you and your family grieving and empty-handed. There's no time to wait - contact our mesothelioma lawyers today for a free case review.
  • We have helped many people get experienced legal and medical help for their mesothelioma cancer and asbestos cancer cases. We will actually walk you the process of contacting an experienced mesothelioma lawyer that we have worked with to get you the best possible settlement for your mesothelioma case.
  • It is not uncommon for there to be 10-20 parties that are named in a mesothelioma lawsuit that are located across the United States. For example, a worker in California may have been exposed to asbestos from asbestos products shipped from Libby, Montana or from an iron ore plant in St. Paul Minnesota. This is why it is very important to obtain an experienced mesothelioma lawyer knows all of the companies in each state who have responsibility for your asbestos exposure.

Those dealing with asbestos and mesothelioma face a number of challenges, including the tremendous costs of treatment. If you were unknowingly exposed to harmful levels of asbestos, you have legal rights and there is help available for you.

Deciding which law firm to represent you and your case is very important. Choosing the right law firm will also be important to your settlement. You are entitled to an experienced mesothelioma law firm who has a track record of success in asbestos lawsuits.

It is not uncommon for there to be 10-20 parties that are named in a asbestos lawsuit that are located across the United States. For example, a worker in California may have been exposed to asbestos from asbestos products shipped from Libby, Montana or from an iron ore plant in St. Paul Minnesota. This is why it is very important to obtain an experienced asbestos mesothelioma law firm that knows all of the companies in each state who have responsibility for your asbestos exposure.

If you are a grieving family member or executor of the will of a person who has died from asbestos-related disease or mesothelioma, you may be eligible to file a claim as well.

We help with you file Mesothelioma and Asbestos-related claims in each state

Call us toll free at 800.291.0963 or use quick contact form located at the right of this page and we will contact you within 24 hours.

 
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