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Employers must take steps to protect workers from asbestos exposure

Most San Diego residents have likely heard about the dangers associated with exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a natural material that is known for its durability and "resistance to heat and corrosion." Today the use of asbestos materials is highly regulated and has been banned in many products, however, in past decades asbestos was commonly used in numerous types of building and construction materials and insulation.

When handled or disturbed, microscopic asbestos fibers float through the air and cling to anything they come into contact with, including an individual's clothing and lung tissue. The dangerous material has been linked to many different lung conditions and cancers including an especially deadly form of lung cancer called mesothelioma.

While the federal government has taken steps to ban and limit the use of asbestos in many products, the deadly fibers still exist in many older buildings and are even still used to make some construction and automotive materials. For the men and women who work in these industries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has established standards related to specific industries and safety-related actions.

The OSHA asbestos standards apply to construction workers, individuals employed at shipyards and general industry to include automotive and product manufacturing workers. Protections employers must provide workers at an increased risk of asbestos exposure include regular monitoring and air quality assessments to determine airborne asbestos levels, training and communication about asbestos health risks and established "Permissible Exposure Limits." Additionally, employers in these select industries must provide workers with access to medical surveillance and maintain detailed records related to the health of all employees.

San Diego area workers who believe an employer is violating OSHA asbestos standards or who are concerned about asbestos exposure may choose to discuss their case with an attorney.

Source:, "Asbestos," Feb. 24, 2015

U.S. Department of Labor, "Safety and Health Topics, "Asbestos," Feb. 24, 2015


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