Property management companies, contractors, and hand men are just some of the companies that are affected by the concern that their employees or tenants could come in contact with a harmful material called asbestos. It was only in the later part of the twentieth century that scientists began to uncover the dangers asbestos posed to humans. Prior to that time, asbestos was a common material used in construction around the world. When doctors and scientists began to uncover the dangers of this common material many countries began banning the product for use in new construction projects, this new legislation did not however eliminate the risks associated with the toxic material because it still existed inside the walls of millions of buildings worldwide.
Asbestos has been linked to many different diseases including mesothelioma and many different forms of lung disease. When the small fibers from materials created using asbestos are inhaled, it is thought that the compounds cause irritation in the respiratory system. In some cases, family members of those exposed to asbestos at work were also diagnosed with medical issues relating to the material. It is unlikely that someone temporarily exposed to asbestos will develop a chronic problem but for employers who work around the substance there is a real danger their employees will develop an asbestos related disease and the company could be considered liable.
In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA has taken responsibility for controlling asbestos. There first major investigation into the material was conducted in nineteen eighty one. They began collection data and reporting which United States Companies had been using asbestos in their products. By the end of the nineteen eighties the EPA was fighting to have the material banned. While asbestos is still being used in some materials, there are many limitations on the concentration amounts allowed and very specific guidelines for workers who come in contact with asbestos.
If you are a business who interacts with asbestos, you should be aware of the current regulations that are monitored by the EPA and OSHA. These regulations set maximum exposure limits based on hours worked and cubic meters of workplace air. The regulations cover a number of different types of work and are broken down into classes. There are four basic classes of work considered in regards to working with asbestos.
The regulations all require a number of precautions to limit both the workers exposure to asbestos and also the release of asbestos into air, water, or other public spaces. If you are a business owner who deals with asbestos related work you should be aware of your liability as it applies to this potentially dangerous material.
In most cases, as the business owner, it is your job to educate your employees about the dangers of working around asbestos and provide them with the knowledge, tools, and protective gear required to safely work with the material. Closely monitoring the operations of your business is imperative if you want to avoid being held responsible for any health concerns that may arise.
Written by Lawrence Reaves for Beacon Hill Associates – http://www.b-h-a.com – a wholesale insurance broker and program administrator focusing on specialty insurance related to the environment and pollution.