If you work at a location that exposes you to asbestos, you are likely familiar with the risks to your own health. You may even have experienced some negative consequences. While this might be a danger you are willing to face, did you know that you could inadvertently be exposing your family to serious health risks, including mesothelioma?
Secondary asbestos exposure is real and dangerous. That’s why—if the asbestos at your location exceeds OSHA’s standards—your employer must legally provide facilities for you to shower in at the end of the workday. Failure to do so is not only irresponsible, it is legally actionable. Not taking such precautions can result in serious illness or even death.
How could a family member be exposed?
Because asbestos is such a tiny particle, it is breathed into the lungs and embeds itself in your skin, hair and clothing. If you don’t shower at work before coming home, just walking into your house and coming into physical contact with a family member—like an after-work kiss from your spouse—exposes that family member to the harmful material.
Another common method of secondary exposure is laundry. If you commingle your laundry, the soap and water is not only insufficient to inoculate the asbestos but also spreads it to the other fabrics. The next time the garments are worn, the exposure will spread the harmful particles to the skin of the family member who owns the piece of clothing, which could cause lasting damage over time.
The final method of secondary exposure is physical items that are designated for your work. This can include your tools or even your car. Your family should avoid touching your work tools or entering the same vehicle you use for your work commute to protect their health.
Once again, if your employer is not providing you the means to shower and clean your clothes after working in an area that exposes you to asbestos, you are within your rights to seek legal action. If not for yourself, do it for your loved ones.