Some safety threats are obvious: big, heavy machinery lumbering around or barrels of toxic substances gently glowing in the dark. Other dangers are less obvious, even invisible. Asbestos falls into this more subtle category.
Asbestos was once a popular building material, thanks to its ability to resist both corrosion and heat. It was initially used for a host of products, from insulation to floor tiles to car parts.
However, over the years, it became apparent that asbestos also came with significant health risks, especially for workers who underwent prolonged exposure. The material is now recognized as hazardous, and its use is highly regulated.
Given the health risks and other potential liabilities, it's essential to keep your facilities up to code and follow all relevant government strictures. These precautions will protect your workers' physical health, as well as allow you to avoid serious legal and regulatory headaches.
Asbestos passes through the air as microscopic fibers. When breathed, these enter the lungs, where they can cause severe damage.
The asbestos fibers cause tiny cuts in the lung tissue, leaving a collection of scars. Prolonged exposure creates a condition known as asbestosis, a chronic lung disease. In its milder form, asbestosis is marked by shortness of breath and other symptoms, though it can progress to the point of causing disability or even death.
As dangerous as all that sounds, asbestosis isn't the only serious medical issue that asbestos threatens. The material is also a widely known carcinogen.
It has been linked to cancers of the larynx and lungs, as well as to ovarian cancer. Meanwhile, it is associated with a rare form of the disease known as mesothelioma, cancer that attacks membranes in the chest and abdomen.
Of course, the safety of your workers should provide their incentive to take proper precautions. You don't want to risk their lives or their long-term health working with a hazardous material without taking steps to minimize the dangers.
But, as if those moral reasons weren't enough, there is a significant business rationale for taking all the steps necessary to eliminate the risks of asbestos exposure. Knowingly allowing your workers to remain in contact with the material without taking appropriate precautions can open you up to significant legal dangers.
Some law firms make their bread and butter pursuing these cases (you've probably seen some of their commercials on TV). Lawsuits can lead to millions of dollars of legal liability, enough sometimes to close a business down for good.
Because of the health concerns that come from asbestos exposure, a significant regulatory apparatus has developed around the material. This includes oversight by both OSHA and the EPA. Meanwhile, most states have their own regulatory controls surrounding asbestos, creating another layer of bureaucracy that you have to work with.
As such, asbestos comes with a host of rules and required procedures. Not following the strict guidelines proscribed by the government can lead to serious problems with the regulatory agencies. You could face fines or other sanctions. It gives you an additional incentive to keep your facility up to code.
Partner with Qualified Staffing
Creating a safe workplace starts with the workers you employ. Partnering with a reliable staffing agency, like Qualified Staffing, will ensure you get the conscientious and attentive workers, you need to maintain maximum compliance.
Contact Qualified Staffing today to learn more.