Construction is considered one of the most dangerous industries. Workers regularly encounter hazards in the course of building, renovating, and demolishing various structures. One of these hazards is exposure to dangerous substances such as asbestos. Construction workers face a higher risk for asbestos-related disease and must take steps to protect themselves from exposure.
There are numerous dangers lurking on construction sites, and construction workers have high rates of workplace injury and illness. There are many types of chemicals that workers can inhale or get on their skin, causing illness or injury.
Asbestos was used for a number of commercial purposes, prized for its durability, versatility, and heat- and flame-resistant properties. It was very popular as an additive in construction materials, including ceiling and floor tiles, drywall, adhesives, roof shingles, cement products, paints, insulation, and more. Asbestos can still be found in many places, including older buildings. Construction workers may encounter asbestos regularly as they renovate or demolish homes, offices, retail spaces, schools, or other structures built decades ago.
Asbestos dust looks just like regular dust to the naked eye. When the microscopic fibers are inhaled or ingested, however, they become lodged in the chest cavity and remain there permanently, damaging the surrounding tissue. Eventually, after decades of this damage, tumors begin to form. Because of the long latency period between exposure and mesothelioma, it is likely that workers who were exposed 10 to 50 years ago could still be diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease.
Because of the increased risk for construction workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has strict safety standards that workers must follow to avoid dangerous levels of exposure. Workers should always wear personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks with HEPA filters when handling asbestos. Wetting asbestos materials before handling or using a vacuum can help contain the spread of asbestos dust. Areas with asbestos hazards should have clear signage, and break areas should be kept far away from these hazards. Most importantly, employees must be trained.
Workers are not the only ones at risk for asbestos exposure from a construction site. Asbestos dust can cling to workers’ clothing, hair, and tools, making it easy to carry it home with them. Historically, family members of those working in construction have also been at higher risk for mesothelioma due to secondary exposure.
As of 2021, there were approximately 7,392,000 construction workers in the United States, and studies show a strong link between construction work and mesothelioma. When following proper safety protocols, construction workers can minimize their risk of developing an asbestos-related disease.
There is no safe level of asbestos exposure, and workers exposed before regulations were in place may still receive a mesothelioma diagnosis. Construction workers should let their physician know of possible exposure risks and monitor their health carefully. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma due to construction-related asbestos exposure, an experienced lawyer can help.
Our Philadelphia mesothelioma attorneys at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler have successfully represented clients in all types of asbestos exposure cases. Call us at 215-569-4000 or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County.