People in a number of different professions may have to handle asbestos as part of their job. For decades before the federal government put regulations in place to protect workers, people would have to handle this dangerous carcinogen without any workplace protections. They may also have unwittingly exposed the people they loved the most to dangerous levels of asbestos.
Whether you worked in a mine or in a factory, the chances are good that you would go home with asbestos dust on your clothing and body. The children who ran to greet you at the door with hugs and the spouse who cleaned your dusty, contaminated clothing may also have repeatedly inhaled asbestos particulate day after day.
While those who directly work with asbestos are at increased risk for mesothelioma and certain other diseases, it’s important for people to understand that the family members of those exposed to asbestos may also be at increased risk. Almost two-thirds of women who develop mesothelioma did not have direct occupational exposure themselves. Instead, the risk came from their spouse’s job and second-hand exposure.
Family members probably had no protection from the asbestos at all
Some companies were proactive about worker safety and had safety procedures in place or provided face masks or respirators even before the federal government required them to do so. These companies may have done something good that reduced the risk their employees faced regarding the development of asbestos in the future.
However, those protective measures would not necessarily have any impact on dangerous second-hand asbestos exposure among those who lived with their workers. Neither children rushing to greet a parent after work nor a spouse attempting to handle household chores would likely have any kind of protection from the potential inhalation of asbestos particles.
There have been situations in which an exposed worker does not wind up sickened despite years of workplace exposure. Instead, their family members are the ones who wind up developing mesothelioma years later.
Those exposed to second-hand asbestos still have rights
When asbestos exposure is easy to link to either someplace you worked or a product you used, it is possible to seek the compensation you need given the debilitating effects of the disease. Those who develop mesothelioma after caring for a loved one who worked with asbestos may also have the right to seek compensation.
After all, it was the dangerous exposure of the worker and inadequate safety practices at the business that resulted in the unnecessary exposure of the family members of the workers. While these cases may be more complex than other asbestos-related claims, that doesn’t mean it is impossible to seek and claim compensation for mesothelioma related to second-hand asbestos exposure.