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Construction workers continue to be at risk for asbestos exposure

Would a construction worker readily recognize the presence of toxic materials at a work site? More than likely, the answer to that question would be in the negative since it is nearly impossible to know for sure without the proper testing. One of the largest risks to these workers when it comes to harmful substances is asbestos exposure, especially when working on some of Ohio's older buildings.

Even though the Environmental Protection Agency banned further use of products containing asbestos, many of the products remain in older buildings. Renovation or demolition work could cause dust and fibers of this toxic substance to become airborne, and workers may not immediately recognize it. For this reason, it would be prudent to be cautious when disturbing materials that formerly contained asbestos such as roof tiles, floor tiles and pipe insulation, among other things.

Employers should provide construction workers with at least minimal training to recognize areas of a work site that could contain asbestos. Any suspect materials should trigger a procedure to protect workers. Someone with the appropriate credentials should come in and test the area for asbestos. If this toxic substance is found, individuals certified and qualified by the Ohio Department of Health must remove it in a certain way.

The problem with asbestos exposure is that the harm it can cause may not become evident for years. Construction workers exposed to it could live for decades without symptoms of related conditions such as asbestosis, mesothelioma or other health problems. For this reason, many sufferers do not realize that they could pursue restitution for their conditions even if the exposure occurred decades earlier. Anyone diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness may want to gain an understanding of his or her rights and legal options.

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