A Threat to You and Your Business

A Threat to You and Your Business

If you’ve got a long career in construction or the trades, chances are you’ve been exposed to asbestos. Now you face two potential threats: life-threatening diseases like mesothelioma and potential liabilities for your business.

By Nicholas Vogelzang, Lead Counsel, Vogelzang Law

We have had members from every trade diagnosed with mesothelioma due to the fact that asbestos was almost inescapable in the 1960’s and 1970’s. If a person was around any sort of construction or heavy industry, they were invariably exposed to asbestos. Both mesothelioma and lung cancer are extremely serious cancers that can result in death within one year from diagnosis.

As a contractor and business owner, being aware of these diseases is extremely important. On an individual basis, you personally may have been heavily exposed to asbestos early in your career. If so, it’s important to see your doctor right away should you experience shortness of breath or fatigue. If you are diagnosed, there are multiple avenues to seek compensation and you should consult with an attorney.

As an employer, it’s important to be aware of this if you have an employee that was exposed to asbestos on your watch and now has lung cancer or mesothelioma. If he or she was employed at your company in the 1980’s or earlier, your company likely had an insurance policy in place that will defend your company against any potential asbestos lawsuit in the present day. It’s important to dig that policy up to make sure you’re protected. Companies like Policy Find can be utilized if you have a larger company with a long history to locate insurance policies.


Specific Asbestos Illnesses

There are two main diseases a worker can get from asbestos exposure: lung cancer and mesothelioma. These cancers result from asbestos exposure from 20-50 years ago. Often, someone with lung cancer was also a smoker. This combined exposure to smoke and asbestos puts them at great risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer; a risk higher than an individual that was only a smoker or only exposed to asbestos.

A person with mesothelioma has only gotten that cancer from asbestos exposure. Smoking history is irrelevant with this particular cancer. A mesothelioma tumor is formed when the asbestos fibers are breathed in and subsequently work their way out of the lung and into the lining of the lung over a period of many years. Eventually the tumor wraps around the lung itself, much like an orange peel.


Where Asbestos is Encountered

Asbestos is often a problem that contractors face when dealing with almost any building constructed prior to 1985. Whether it’s the gaskets on a flange, floor tile in the basement, an old roof, or the worst problem of asbestos pipe covering, the most important thing to remember is to not cut it, sand it, or otherwise manipulate it. If asbestos-containing material is cut, the fibers can linger in the air and be breathed in by people across the room for the next several hours.

This is why asbestos abatement teams exist. A hose and a mask are not sufficient protection from fibers that can get into your clothing and be brought home to families. We have had far too many tragic cases of wives getting cancer from shaking out their husband’s clothing.


Relief for Victims

If you have an employee that gets lung cancer or mesothelioma, it’s often a devastating diagnosis. Financial compensation from bankruptcy trusts from now defunct asbestos companies are also available to help compensate a victim and his family. While this can never make a person or their family whole, compensation can go a long way in helping defray medical costs and other financial hardships.

Hopefully, you, your company, and your employees won’t have to deal with asbestos issues on any basis. However, if you do, as with most problems, it is better to address the issue head on and tackle it properly before it grows into a bigger problem.

Category Features, Health