A job can be stressful for numerous reasons. From financial concerns to learning new procedures to keeping up with production metrics, workers can spend an entire shift under great strain. Unfortunately, the one thing that workers should be concerned about often slips their attention – their possible exposure to deadly, toxic materials.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that more than 125 million people worldwide are exposed to asbestos each year. A significant percentage of those individuals suffer occupational exposure.
While almost every occupation carries some risk of exposure, there are certain occupations that have a greater risk for danger, including:
- Construction workers
- Shipyard workers
- Industrial workers
It is crucial that workers understand their risk for exposure and what steps can be taken to minimize danger.
What can be done?
Step one would be to understand your risks. Several items can contain asbestos, including tilework, insulation, auto parts, plumbing, ductwork, cement and roofing. Past that, a worker must be diligent about eradicating exposure.
- Was a workplace assessment completed? A proper workplace assessment is not a one-time project. Employers must be vigilant in identifying hazards and ensuring the safety of their workers.
- Do you have the proper equipment? Personal protective equipment can include respirators, goggles, disposable coveralls, rubber boots and disposable gloves.
- Do you have access to decontamination areas? Historically, loved ones were in danger due to secondary exposure … a worker who inadvertently brings hazardous materials home with them. An employee should be able to dispose of their clothing or have it washed at industrial facilities before leaving work. Additionally, they should scrub any skin that could even potentially have been exposed before leaving the facility.
Asbestos exposure can lead to devastating conditions including mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. It is crucial that you act quickly if you fear exposure.