Asbestos is still all around us. It lingers in most structures that were built before 1978. It is still used in some applications, even though many uses of the mineral have been banned. It continues to sicken people every year, including with the rare cancer mesothelioma.
Asbestos was commonly used in construction, shipyards, rail yards and other industries. If you work in these fields, you could be dealing with asbestos on your worksite even now. Yet only a certified asbestos abatement contractor should remove asbestos and related materials.
If you suspect you could be exposed to asbestos at work, you may want to call for help. Here are some resources:
Filing a workplace safety complaint: Call the nearest Cal/OSHA district office, the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Ideally, call during office hours. If you cannot call during office hours, you can call and leave a message. If you cannot call at all, you can file a complaint via email.
Be aware that your company may not be happy if you file a complaint with Cal/OSHA. Some employers will even retaliate if they suspect you have filed a workplace safety complaint. This is illegal. If you suspect your employer may retaliate, discuss your situation with an attorney who has handled asbestos litigation.
Environmental concerns: If you are concerned that there could be general exposure to the asbestos, consider calling your local air quality district, the California Air Resources Board or EPA’s Region 9. To find your local air quality district, go to www.arb.ca.gov/capcoa/roster.htm and click on the “Contact Us” button, which will give you a local air district contact list. The State Air Resources Board complaint hotline is 1-800-272-4572. For asbestos issues, the EPA Region 9 phone number is 415-744-1089.
Licensing violations? If you suspect your company is using unlicensed personnel for asbestos abatement or removal, or if it may be violating its license, contact the Contractors State License Board at 1-800-321-2752.
As always, an attorney can be a valuable resource in any asbestos-related issue.