Asbestos has long been used in building trades for its durability and fireproofing abilities. Unfortunately, it has only recently been discovered to be the cause of serious respiratory problems and systemic diseases. If asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can become lodged in the lungs and organ linings, causing a form of cancer known as mesothelioma.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that over 70% of asbestos exposure in the 20th century occurred in the construction industry. As older buildings are demolished or renovated, workers remain at risk of occupational lung diseases such as asbestosis, lung disease, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
Types of Workers Who May Suffer Asbestos Exposure on a Construction Site
The problem with asbestos construction materials today isn’t installation, but disturbance. Asbestos may be left in place in older structures as long as they are fully contained. However, when buildings are decaying or are torn down, tiny asbestos fibers can be released into the air, landing on the clothing and faces of workers. Once these particles are released, they can easily be inhaled or ingested, causing malignant mesothelioma years after initial exposure.
Many trades within the construction industry are at risk of asbestos exposure, including:
- Roofers. Older roof tiles and coatings containing asbestos are particularly deadly to roofers and homeowners alike. Weathered shingles and siding could release the carcinogen into the home, while replacing the roof puts the roofers at risk.
- Carpenters. Asbestos use was at its peak from the 1930s to the 1970s, and these homes are often remodeled by new owners. Home renovations can expose carpenters to asbestos in vinyl floor tiles, siding, sheetrock, and insulation.
- Masons. Bricks, tiles, mortar, cement, and other asbestos-containing construction products may easily cause lung damage to masons, especially if they have not been provided with adequate respiratory protection.
- Plumbers. The use of asbestos has not been completely banned in the United States. It is still used for some industrial heat proofing systems such as boilers, valves, tank jackets, and pipe sheathing.
- Electricians. Electricians are at risk of inhaling asbestos fibers when repairing cables or wiring in the walls and ceilings of older homes and commercial buildings.
- Demolition crews. Workers who are tearing down old schools, industrial plants, and commercial buildings may come into contact with asbestos-containing materials such as plasters, paint, insulation, and ceiling tiles.
Who Is Responsible for When a Construction Worker Contracts Mesothelioma?
It can be difficult to determine who is at fault for mesothelioma because it can take decades for the disease to show symptoms. Since a construction worker diagnosed with work-related cancer may have been exposed in any number of ways, it is vital that you speak with a construction accident attorney to determine if the blame lies with:
- An employer. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created guidelines to prevent construction workers from asbestos exposure on the job. If a former employer did not take steps to limit asbestos exposure, communicate hazards to workers, provide decontaminated eating areas, or perform medical surveillance of exposed workers, your employer may be liable.
- A manufacturer. Many companies that have created and sold asbestos products have been forced to establish trust funds to compensate mesothelioma victims. If a particular product was the likely source of your exposure, you and your family may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer.
- Other parties. Your exposure may have been caused by the negligence of a contractor, subcontractor, or construction site owner. We can determine who is at fault and get you the compensation you deserve.
Let Us Determine Who Is Responsible for Your Construction Accident
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is vital that you contact our construction injury lawyers as soon as possible. We can investigate your claim and work to get you the compensation you are owed—and we do not collect any fees until after your case is won. Simply fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today, or learn more about your rights in our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.