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The Development of Osha's Asbestos Regulations

Written By Iniesta Estable on Thursday, December 27, 2012 | 2:13 PM

While we have only in the past 21 years adopted asbestos regulation, people have been using the substances (and getting sick because of it) for the past 3,000 years. Asbestos has been a popular component of a number of different industries, including construction and automotive, until the passing of regulations on behalf of the EPA and OSHA starting in 1989.

Before OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, began regulating asbestos, it was first banned by the EPA, or Environmental Protection Agency. Even though doctors began to report the health issues that arose from exposure to asbestos in the early 1900s, it was not until the 1970s that people began to call for the phase-out of the mineral. This is because it was considered too helpful to get eliminate. Finally, in 1989, the EPA finally issued an Asbestos Ban and Phase Out Rule.

Many in the asbestos industry protest this ban because asbestos can be incredibly helpful due to its properties. Asbestos is a member of the silicate mineral family. Most silicates, as a whole, are useful due to their highly insulating properties. As a silicate, asbestos is resistant to chemicals, heat, flame, electricity, and degradation. On its own, asbestos is useful for other reasons as well. It is easily added to a number of different products because it is has high tensile strength as well as being extremely flexible.

Asbestos is divided into six subsets, chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite. The two most commonly utilized forms of asbestos were chrysotile and amosite, and the most dangerous form is generally considered to be crocidolite.

Because of its insulating yet strong and flexible characteristics, asbestos became widespread in many different parts of our lives. It could be found in drywall, joint compound, counter tops, roofing tiles, vinyl floor tiles, insulation panels, fire blankets, fire doors, brake pads, and clutch plates. However, to protect the workers involved in the industries that utilized this substance, OSHA soon followed the EPA's lead in regulating the mineral.

In the automotive industry, workers can often be exposed to airborne asbestos fibers when they do brake or clutch work. This is because the mineral is usually an ingredient in brake pads, brake shoes, and clutch plates. When friction is applied to these components, asbestos fibers are released into the air. They are usually kept packed into the cases of the parts, so that they burst out with the car work is done. Thus, for automotive shops that do more than five brake or clutch jobs per week, OSHA requires specific safety measures to be in place.

OSHA also heavily regulates the use of asbestos in both the construction industry and the shipyards. Besides having controls in place to monitor that amount of asbestos exposure experienced by workers, the government agency also orders employers to preserve data tied to exposure. This includes medical records and hazard reports.

Even though these governmental regulations are now in place, many people still suffer from illegal asbestos exposure. If you or someone you know has developed mesothelioma due to an incident like this, you should speak to a mesothelioma lawyer to help you fight for your rights. For more information, contact a mesothelioma lawyer at Williams Kherkher today.