Construction Workers Exposed to Asbestos on the Job
Construction workers have been exposed to asbestos throughout the Pacific Northwest for years without their knowledge, as many construction components contain hazardous asbestos fibers. Thousands of cases of asbestos lung cancer and mesothelioma are diagnosed annually, including among people who formerly worked in the construction trades. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, Bergman Oslund Udo Little is ready to help you seek justice.
Whether the project is a home on a residential street or an industrial facility meant to employ hundreds, a construction job site can involve a wide variety of skilled tradespeople. Depending on the structure being built, these may include:
Because of the many different skills involved in construction work, construction workers in our community might be part of various professional organizations. For example, masonry workers might be a part of the Northwest Concrete Masonry Association, while electricians may be part of a local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers like IBEW Local 46.
Health Risks of Asbestos to Construction Workers
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that becomes dangerous when its microscopic fibers become airborne, enabling them to be inhaled or ingested. Construction workers risk developing asbestos-related diseases when exposed to materials containing the substance, particularly when those materials are installed, cut, moved, or otherwise disturbed.
Once asbestos enters the body, it can become embedded in sensitive tissue and organs, like your lungs. Over time, it can lead to the development of tumors and cancers, like lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Occupational Asbestos Exposure for Construction Workers
Construction labor is physically challenging and difficult work. It’s also considered one of the most dangerous careers. One hazard most people don’t consider is asbestos exposure. After decades of hard work, many construction industry workers have become sick with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases.
Asbestos Building Products and Manufacturers
Asbestos was used heavily in the construction industry throughout the 20th century. Asbestos resists fire and heat, so it was commonly used for insulation. Construction workers would likely encounter structural products containing the fibers, like roof coating and wallboard.Thermal insulation and joint compound products contained asbestos. Asbestos was also used in other building products like ceiling tiles, pipes, and vinyl floor tiles.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned new uses of asbestos-containing products in 1989. However, American companies can still use asbestos in small amounts. The United States Environmental Protection Agency and other government agencies have implemented several laws and regulations on asbestos use, but they don’t guarantee full protection from exposure. As manufacturers finally acknowledged the dangers of asbestos, they significantly decreased its use and applications.
Meanwhile, despite these regulations, countless construction workers were already exposed to dangerous asbestos materials. Because manufacturers have a legal duty to produce safe products, anyone suffering from an asbestos-related illness has the right to file a lawsuit against the product manufacturers or seek compensation through the trust funds these companies have established.
While it is less likely to encounter asbestos in construction projects now, the risk of exposure still exists since many older homes and buildings require demolition, removal, repair, and renovation.
Although asbestos is heavily regulated and many uses are banned, buildings containing asbestos hazards are still prevalent. Therefore, those working on construction projects around older buildings may become exposed to dangerous dust and fibers.
During asbestos abatement projects, the building owner or project manager must inform workers about potential asbestos exposure. The Washington Department of Labor & Industries requires asbestos testing and an inspection prior to construction and repair work. Employers and property owners must also offer appropriate protective gear, sufficient dust containment, and collection measures. Under 29 CFR 1926.1002, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has mandated that employers implement specific quality control measures to eliminate or limit construction worker exposure to asbestos.
Known Asbestos Exposure Sites in the Pacific Northwest
Asbestos use has a long history in the U.S., with the material often viewed as a miracle for its durability, heat resistance, and accessibility. Even with regulation, asbestos has not been fully banned in this county, leaving workers and the public at risk.
Some states are hotbeds for asbestos exposure, either due to work by specific trades or naturally occurring deposits in the areas. Washington and Oregon are examples of such states. The following are some known exposure sites in this region:
Whether you worked at one of these sites or are unsure about which locations or jobs you had involved asbestos, we can help. Our Washington and Oregon mesothelioma lawyers know how to connect your disease with instances of asbestos exposure. Contact us today to learn more about your options.
Asbestos Exposure and Related Trades
OSHA ranks construction among the most hazardous industries in the United States. With anywhere from 5 to 8 million construction workers employed at any given time, health risks can vary depending on the trade.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, roughly 27 million U.S. workers were exposed to asbestos fibers between 1940 and 1979. Many different types of construction workers and tradespeople work on job sites. Some occupations are more likely to result in asbestos exposure than others. But anyone who has worked around or with asbestos-containing products or materials is at risk. Some of the specific trades having the most exposure include:
Workers in any of these construction trades are at risk of developing an asbestos-related disease. There is no safe level of asbestos exposure. However, prolonged exposure to these materials in concentrated amounts can create an elevated health risk.
Legal Options for Construction Workers Exposed to Asbestos
One thing that makes mesothelioma cases so challenging is the disease’s long latency period. It’s possible you had exposure to asbestos in the 1970s or 1980s and have not experienced any symptoms or just received a recent diagnosis. You might think you don’t have a case due to the passage of time, but that’s not true.
For personal injury claims related to asbestos exposure, you have two years from the date of diagnosis to file a lawsuit in Oregon and three years in Washington. If the patient has passed away, you have three years from the date of death in either state to file a wrongful death claim.
While compensation can’t reverse the terrible impact of asbestos exposure, it can help ease your family’s financial burden. You may be entitled to pursue damages related to medical care, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Since 1995, the lawyers of Bergman Oslund Udo Little have been devoted to obtaining fair compensation for our clients. Asbestos law is our primary practice area, which allows us to focus on delivering personalized and specialized attention to every client. And we get results.
Our attorneys have collected over $1 billion for our clients through our compassionate representation and zealous advocacy. We continue to receive positive feedback from past clients thanks to our unwavering commitment to creating a personalized strategy that holds the wrongdoers accountable.
Mesothelioma Attorneys for Construction Workers & Their Families
As a leading Pacific Northwest asbestos-exposure and mesothelioma law firm, Bergman Oslund Udo Little is committed to helping construction workers and their families get justice and collect maximum compensation. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, you only have a limited time to file a claim, so it’s important to take action as soon as possible.
We passionately represent former electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, and other construction professionals. Our attorneys understand the unique challenges of these cases and are locally based, meaning we have extensive knowledge of the exposure sites throughout the region.