Many workers in Illinois are exposed to asbestos on the job. Exposure to this dangerous substance can cause a number of life-threatening medical conditions. There is currently no safe level of exposure, and even brief contact may increase the chance of occupational illness.
Lingering risks from asbestos
Asbestos is much more tightly regulated than it was during the 20th century. It is no longer used as insulation in new buildings, pipes and vehicles, but it is still present in a wide range of work environments and may not be entirely avoidable during repairs on older sites. According to a long-term projection study on asbestos and workers carried out by Harvard University, U.S. workers will still contract approximately 500 cases per year of asbestos-related mesothelioma (an aggressive form of lung cancer) in 2055, more than half a century after the material was phased out in new constructions. These lingering risks are projected to cause considerable suffering and loss of life.
Health problems caused by asbestos
Mesothelioma and other types of lung cancer are not the only serious health risks posed by asbestos. Exposure to asbestos fibers can also cause any or all of the following medical conditions:
- Asbestosis (buildup of scar tissue in the lungs)
- Irritation of the pleural lining
- Impaired blood flow to the heart
- Malfunctions of the intestines, stomach or peritoneum
These conditions can be career-ending and permanently disabling.
Workers at risk have the right to compensation
If workers are exposed to asbestos on the job, they have the right to full compensation for any health conditions they develop as a result. The exposure does not need to be long-term. A few days spent working in an old building full of asbestos may provide ample grounds for a workers’ compensation case if the employee becomes ill.
Documentation is important for a strong case
Many workers’ compensation claims are filed after catastrophic accidents in the workplace. Cases of asbestos exposure are more complicated. Because it may take years for the effects of asbestos to become apparent in a worker’s body, it is important to document every symptom and every incident of exposure. Employees have the right to know when they are working in an environment that may expose them to asbestos. They also have the right to sufficient protective equipment. If employers are negligent, workers should document the unsafe conditions and seek counsel from a legal professional.
Asbestos exposure on the job is a persistent danger in many careers. To find out more about your rights and your options, contact a personal injury lawyer today.