The connection between asbestos exposure and a mesothelioma diagnosis is well-established. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been sounding the alarm since the 1970s that exposure to asbestos is one key way people develop this disease. So, it comes as a surprise that the United States Postal Service would continue to keep open buildings containing asbestos. Another surprise is the attitude of Postal Service management to the inspection that revealed these hazards.
The OIG completed an inspection of 20 post office buildings in the Capital Metro Area and provided its report on July 18, 2016. The findings were provided to the management of the United States Postal Service. Although the report represents findings for postal buildings stretching from DC to Atlanta, it is indicative of the conditions faced by postal workers everywhere.
More than half the locations inspected failed to display a required OHSA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) poster titled Job Safety and Health Protection. When it came to building maintenance and employee protection, the locations were severely lacking. The OIG inspectors applied OSHA regulations and found 51 possible violations. These included mold, asbestos, trip hazards, leaking roofs, and locations where vermin had managed to enter the building and begin eating away at insulation and asbestos tiles.
It is fair to note that this is one of the key issues presented by many opponents of continued asbestos use. The material is harmless if left undisturbed, but when animals chew through asbestos, the fibers are disturbed and can become airborne. At that point, the material is a mesothelioma hazard to anyone entering the building.
The OIG report also indicated that the management of the U.S. Postal Service has a stubborn attitude towards employee safety. Although management stated its intention to reassess and reevaluate how it performs maintenance and protects workers, it also “disagreed with the method the OIG used to determine the impact to physical safety and security and questioned the qualifications of OIG personnel who performed the audits.” In other words, the management of the United States Postal Service took issue with the findings of its own Inspector General.
Findings such as those provided by the OIG to the management of the U.S. Postal Service are nothing new. Shortly after the EPA managed to issue a ban on asbestos products in the United States, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans overturned their ruling. Although the agency has continued to press the U.S. government for a ban on the cancer-causing material, the asbestos industry has lobbied fiercely to prevent its end. Many large corporations continue to use the product and continue to deny its connection to mesothelioma diagnoses. Management of large businesses in the nation tend to always take a hard position that something else is to blame when someone is diagnosed with mesothelioma. The U.S. Post Office is clearly no different.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and believe it is related to workplace conditions, your employer or their contractors may be held liable. If you live in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, especially in Delaware County, Chester County, or Philadelphia County, schedule a free consultation now. The Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler will answer all your questions. Call 215-569-4000 or 800-369-0899 or contact us online.