Asbestos is a naturally-occurring substance that has many potentially beneficial qualities. It is an excellent insulator that also has fire-resistant qualities. Because of its many potential benefits, companies have used asbestos in products ranging from automotive parts to building insulation. Unfortunately, for all the uses and benefits that asbestos offers, it also creates substantial health risks for those who inhale it.
Employees in a wide range of industries, from construction and automobile mechanics to Navy ship workers and miners, could wind up exposed to asbestos as part of their job. Modern companies need to take special steps to protect their workers from potential asbestos exposure, but companies in the past may not have been as safety-focused, especially because there weren’t laws in place requiring safety gear.
Sadly, a lack of adequate safety protocols in commercial and industrial facilities that work with asbestos could not only endanger workers but also their spouses and children. That’s because the environmental contamination caused by particulate asbestos was not restricted to the facility, but may very well have traveled with the workers themselves.
Workers could very well bring the danger home with them
Particulate asbestos is dangerous because it damages the lungs when someone inhales it or damages the body when absorbed through the skin or mucus membranes. Workers may have some protection in a factory or on a job site thanks to the use of respiration devices that filter the air they breathe. However, those devices may not have been in use in older factories.
More importantly, other safety gear, such as hazardous materials suits and decontamination showers, may not have been available to workers. That could mean that those handling asbestos or products made with asbestos wound up heading home with clothing covered in asbestos dust. They would wear the same clothing in their vehicle and in their home as they wore while at work.
Those contaminated pieces of clothing could endanger family members as they hugged the worker who has just returned home or if they handled the clothing later, especially in an enclosed space such as a basement laundry room. Repeated exposure through inhalation because of a worker’s contaminated clothing could result in someone developing serious illnesses many years later.
Family members may have legal rights just like exposed workers
When a company doesn’t take adequate safety measures, their staff and the people who love their workers may end up paying the price. For those who experience workplace environmental asbestos exposure, only to later develop an illness or have a loved one develop an illness, legal action against the company may be the best option.
Even companies that have since gone out of business may have resources available to their former employees, such as a mesothelioma bankruptcy fund. Before you assume you have no options available, you should fully explore your situation with someone familiar with asbestos-related legal claims.