The Dangers of Asbestos: Protect your Employees, Protect your Business

When it comes to owning a business, the safety of your employees is a top priority. And, depending on the kind of company you operate, employee safety can be extremely complex. If you own a construction business or a factory, for example, the single subject of asbestos exposure can be incredibly time-consuming, complicated and even a little confusing.

Thankfully, there are ways to protect both your employees and your business form the dangers of asbestos. Keep reading to find out how.

Asbestos hazard warning sign
photo credit: Alpha

The Dangers of Asbestos

If your business deals with the manufacture, distribution or use of asbestos, knowing the facts is crucial to the safety of your workers and the livelihood of your company. This mineral is a contributing factor of a number of illnesses, namely a rare form of cancer called mesothelioma. Asbestos is made of tiny particles, which, if inhaled or ingested, irritate the lining of the internal organs and, over time, lead to the development of cancer.

Since most cases of mesothelioma are the result of workplace exposure to asbestos, businesses who deal with this mineral have a legal, not to mention moral, responsibility to protect their employees. Indeed, when mesothelioma develops as a result of workplace exposure, employers can be held accountable, and are often required to pay compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and other factor. According to attorneys at the law firm of Baron and Budd, lawsuits regarding asbestos and mesothelioma are becoming more and more common, as we gain a better understanding of this harmful substance and its deadly effects. For a small business, these types of lawsuits can spell disaster, and can affect companies and employees for years to come.

Protect Your Employees, Protect Your Business

Because of the legal and ethical implications of exposure to asbestos in the workplace, protecting your employees is of utmost importance.

Asbestos removal
photo credit: Albert Ter Harmsel

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the following guidelines can help prevent the potential dangers associated with asbestos exposure:

  • Train and inform. Employees working with asbestos should always be kept abreast of the most recent training and safety practices. Employees should also be informed of the hazards of asbestos.
  • Label hazardous materials. Display caution labels on all materials containing asbestos and other harmful substances.
  • Require the use of protective clothing and gear. Respirators, coveralls, face and head coverings, gloves and protective footwear should always be worn when dealing with asbestos.
  • Monitor exposure. To ensure the proper safety procedures, employers should always monitor employees’ exposure to asbestos.
  • Restrict areas of exposure. Regulate and restrict areas of high asbestos exposure, only allowing individuals with full safety gear and up-to-date training to enter.
  • Keep records. Employers must keep accurate, up-to-date records on asbestos levels, employee exposure, safety precautions and other factors.
  • Ensure proper hygiene practices. Employees must be provided with clean changing rooms, as well as two lockers or storage units to prevent cross-contamination. Employees should also wash their hands and face prior to eating, drinking or leaving work. Showers must be furnished by employers, and protective clothing may not be worn outside areas of exposure.
  • Medical exams. Employees should have full medical exams, including chest X-rays, prior to starting work, then annually and at the time of their resignation or termination.

Although exposure to asbestos can be harmful to both your employees and your company, there are ways you, as an employer, can protect your workers and your business. With the information provided here, you can offer your employees a safe working environment, and prevent the risks associated with asbestos exposure.