Workers claim OSHA overlooked asbestos exposure at workplace

Asbestos is commonly thought of as a problem of the past, an issue with which only older generations must deal. While it might be true that many people now suffering the tragic and often fatal complications of asbestos exposure are those who worked with or around the substance decades ago, the danger is not yet gone. A recent workplace accident in a state near Ohio exposed what may be an ongoing issue with asbestos in at least one factory.

The out-of-state Ford assembly plant made national headlines when a crumbling wall collapsed, killing one worker and sending another to the hospital in critical condition. Shortly after this deadly incident, other workers began to report on the deplorable working conditions within the factory. Those reports include claims that they are not adequately protected from asbestos.

In 2012, at least one worker made a troubling complaint to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The government agency is charged with enforcing safety and health standards in workplaces across the United States. In his complaint, the worker noticed that a white substance was accumulating below a set of pipes that were affixed with warning labels for asbestos. The initial investigation into these complaints were ignored. Several months later OSHA issued a report that there was nothing to be concerned about, despite glaring safety violations.

Nonchalant attitudes toward asbestos exposure are especially troubling. With fatal illnesses like mesothelioma and lung disease caused by even brief exposure or inhalation of the toxic substance, every employer in Ohio and across the rest of the country should take the matter of protecting employees from exposure seriously. Unfortunately, this is simply not the reality that most people live in, and many employers eschew safety in lieu of profits. Years and even decades later, these employers and companies are often held liable by victims and their families who are struggling with the related damages and fallout from asbestos exposure.

Source: wsws.org, "Worker crushed to death after wall collapses at Chicago Ford plant", Marcus Day, Jan. 4, 2016

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