The Lingering Threat of Asbestosis in the Industrial Workplace
Today’s industrial employees must not only remain cautious of workplace injury, but also illness caused by elements such as asbestos, which is considered a major workplace hazard according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos represents a family of mineral-based materials that naturally formulate as masses of fibers. It is widely used across several industries because of its strength, flexibility, and resistance to heat and corrosive chemicals. However, asbestos can become a problem that enters the homes of workers as the fibers may absorb into the skin or clothing. Exposure to these fibers can result in numerous health problems, in particularly, asbestosis.
What Is Asbestosis?
After being exposed to asbestos for many years, the fibers a worker inhales may cause permanent damage to the lungs. The medical term for this condition is asbestosis. Early symptoms of this condition generally include shortness of breath, chronic coughing and broadening of the fingertips. However, these warning signs may not be noticeable to the worker for a very long time, possibly years.
Severe cases of asbestosis often result in a complete breakdown of the air sacs in the lungs, which makes it next to impossible for the worker to inhale the oxygen he needs to breathe. Because the body works extra hard to pump blood through the lung, this condition may eventually lead to heart failure. One of the most common ailments associated with this condition is mesothelioma, a form of cancer that affects the membranes lining the abdomen and lungs. It can also lead to lung cancer as well cancer of the stomach, colon, esophagus and rectum. In a worse case scenario, asbestosis can progress to disability and eventually death.
Who’s at Risk?
According to OSHA, roughly 1.3 million employees in the construction and general industrial field are at significant risk of asbestosis due to such high levels of exposure to asbestos in the workplace. The construction industry is under the most exposure, especially for work that calls for the removal of asbestos during demolition or renovation projects. Workers can also be exposed during the production of asbestos products such as insulation, textiles and other building materials.
Asbestos that is bonded in brake linings and other finished products does not pose a risk to employees’ health as long as it is not damaged or disrupted in a manner that causes fibers to leak into the air. If this does occur, the fibers are susceptible to easily breaking down into dust or small particles. Asbestos fibers are similar to glass slivers, meaning they can be mistakenly inhaled or swallowed. They can also become trapped within the digestive system and tissues of the lungs. Once these fibers are absorbed into the body, they often remain there permanently.
Seeking Legal Advice for Workplace Injury or Asbestosis
Workers who have developed asbestosis as result of asbestos exposure may take legal action and receive compensation to recover financial loss and pay for medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering associated with the illness. If you, or a loved one, are suffering from exposure to asbestos on the job, give us a call at 1-877-405-4313 or 1-877-405-4313, or complete our online form for a free evaluation of your case. Our qualified lawyers will provide you with guidance regarding any potential claim you may have.