Ongoing asbestos exposure serious concern for university faculty

Most Ohio workers understandably expect to be taken seriously when reporting concerns related to toxic substances in their workplace. Unfortunately, not all employers take reports from worried employees earnestly, putting the entire workforce at continued risk of asbestos exposure. In many instances, workers who voice asbestos concerns risk having their continued employment threatened or cut short.

A safety and environmental health specialist says that Sonoma State University forced him to resign when he refused to stop complaining about asbestos contamination on campus. Following his forced resignation, word of the contamination spread rapidly across campus, causing students and faculty alike to express a mixture of concern and outrage. Many professors now avoid using their offices in buildings that have been found to contain asbestos dust in the air conditioning, ventilation and heating systems.

Administrators at the university acknowledge the presence of asbestos but, in a turn that might surprise most people, claim that it poses absolutely zero risk to anyone on campus. It bases this claim on past testing, but some experts believe that the university purposely tampered with evidence and classrooms prior to undergoing court-ordered testing. Beyond that, the university's president is also in the hot seat for allegedly deleting emails regarding the ongoing asbestos contamination.

The possible asbestos exposure going on at the University is exceptionally concerning. Industry standards consider 100,000 asbestos structures in a square centimeter to be considerably high, and independent testing confirmed levels of 259,000 and 518,000, respectively. Conversely, the university maintained its position that no airborne asbestos is contained within the six buildings in question.

Hundreds of faculty members have since filed a grievance with their union in an effort to secure the safest work environment possible. Filing complaints and grievances with the authority or group overseeing a property can be an effective course of action for workers to hold irresponsible employers accountable for their negligence. Sadly, when it comes to asbestos exposure, it can be difficult to ascertain its full effects until years or even decades later. When Ohio workers develop catastrophic illnesses years down the road, employers can still face claims for liability by means of a civil court lawsuit.

Source: pressdemocrat.com, "Sonoma State University focus of asbestos-related lawsuit", Clark Mason, April 15, 2016

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