Asbestos Exposure in Florida
Florida workers injured on the job have a right to workers’ compensation under state law. (Workers’ compensation is employer insurance that assists workers who are injured on the job with medical bills, lost wages and other related expenses.) But keep in mind that this right isn’t limited to expenses related to a one-time accident. Workers may also be compensated for occupational diseases.
An occupational disease is an illness that someone develops because of their work activity. Common examples are the diseases that can develop when workers are exposed to asbestos.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos minerals are composed of durable fibers that are resistant to fire and many chemicals. These qualities have made asbestos attractive to the construction industry since the 1800s. But now we know the health consequences of asbestos exposure, which happens if the fibers become airborne and are inhaled. Serious health problems caused by asbestos include:
- Asbestosis — asbestos fibers can become trapped in the lung tissue when inhaled and eventually cause scarring, which can impede proper lung functioning; and
- Mesothelioma — a cancer of the outer lining of the lung and chest as well as the abdominal wall.
Construction is a high-risk occupation for asbestos exposure. Caulk, insulation, roofing materials and various other construction materials could potentially contain asbestos fibers. Spouses and children can also be exposed, because asbestos lingers on clothing. If your loved one handles your clothing they are at risk of secondhand exposure.
Other high-risk occupations include shipyard workers, mechanics, industrial plant workers and firefighters.
Florida regulates the use and release of asbestos, including administration of an asbestos removal program to prevent the release of asbestos during demolition or renovation activities.
The federal government also regulates the use of asbestos. Specifically, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has regulations in place to protect workers from asbestos exposure. There are strict rules regarding how asbestos can be handled in the workplace. Protections vary according to the profession and type of exposure, but here are the basic standards:
- There is a permissible exposure limit. This means that employers must ensure their workers aren’t exposed to an asbestos concentration above a specified limit.
- Workers exposed to asbestos must receive special training on how to handle asbestos-containing materials. This includes training on how to use the proper safety equipment.
- If there is a risk of asbestos exposure then the workplace must be regularly monitored. A professional should classify the worksite according to the asbestos concentration. This will affect the type of training that workers receive.
- Workers who are exposed to asbestos should also be medically monitored.
- Asbestos worksites must be properly demarcated with clear warning signs. These signs should explain both the presence of asbestos and the threat of exposure.
Contact Us Today
Contact one of our workers’ compensation attorneys at Nicole Hessen, P.A. immediately if you have been injured on the job or developed an occupational disease in West Palm Beach. We will help recover the compensation that you are entitled to receive under Florida law.