OSHA's Battle Against Asbestos

Written By Iniesta Estable on Friday, January 25, 2013 | 1:56 PM

Even though the health issues related to asbestos have been noted since Ancient Greek and Roman times, the substance was not outlawed in the United States until the late 1980s. With the Environmental Protection Agency's Asbestos Ban and Phase-Out rule passed in June of 1989, we are now more protected against the carcinogen. Additionally, OSHA has passed other legislation and regulations to help workers as well.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, began in 1970 with the Occupational Safety and Health Act. OSHA was developed to help protect most employees from work-related illnesses and injuries. Thus, when the problems with asbestos hit, OSHA stepped in to create and enforce regulations to protect workers.

The three main industries that embraced asbestos usage were construction, shipping, and automotive. This material was useful for these three industries due to its properties as a silicate mineral as well as its own characteristics. As a silicate, asbestos has highly insulating qualities. It resists electricity, heat, flame, chemicals, and biodegradation. Due to its own qualities, asbestos is flexible and has high tensile strength. This means that it was easily added to a number of different products, which helps explain its spread and popularity.

In the construction industry, asbestos was utilized in things like joint compound, vinyl flooring, ceiling tiles, insulation, and counter tops. For automotive businesses, asbestos was added to gaskets, brake, and clutch components. Lastly, the shipping industry utilized asbestos like the construction companies, but it focused a lot on insulation to help keep fires from spreading throughout a ship.

For the auto industry, OSHA requires that businesses that perform more than five brake or clutch jobs per week must have at least one safety measure in place to prevent the spread of airborne asbestos fibers. These methods include the negative-pressure enclosure/HEPA vacuum system, the usage of wet wipes, and low pressure/wet cleaning.

In the construction, shipping, and other general industries, OSHA has outlined that workers may not be exposed to large amounts of asbestos. Additionally, if someone reports an asbestos-related health issue, this must all be properly documented and medical records must be collected and noted in case of lawsuits and compensation in the future.

Sadly, even though OSHA works hard to protect workers, some people are still illegally exposed to asbestos. If you or someone you know has developed mesothelioma or another such disease, you should speak to a lawyer about your options for possible financial recompense.

For more information, talk to an asbestos lawyer at the firm of Williams Kherkher today.