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Asbestos and filing a workers' compensation claim

Many employers seek to look out for the health and well-being of their employees, but incidents in the workplace can still occur, resulting in injuries and even illnesses related to the work environment. While changes to the health and safety standards in the workplace could help increase the safety in the work environment and reduce occurrences of work-related illnesses and injuries, these measures unfortunately do not eliminate injuries and illnesses in some occupations.

The health concerns related to asbestos are apparent. However, many workers in the construction industry and shipyard employment sector face a high risk of being exposed to asbestos. Asbestos is a term used to define a group of naturally occurring minerals that are resistant to heat and corrosion. Because of this resistance, asbestos is commonly used in products such as insulation for pipes, building materials, floor titles and in vehicle brakes and clutches. Although asbestos is useful in many products, the risks it poses to workers are grave.

Although the fibers associated with asbestos are too small to see with the naked eye, an employee could breathe in fibers. These fibers tend to build up like scar tissue in the lungs, causing asbestosis. This can result in the loss of lung function, causing it to progress into a disability or even lead to death for the worker. Additionally, asbestos can cause cancer to the lungs and other diseases, such as mesothelioma.

While health and safety standards have been put in place for workers who are exposed to asbestos, this does not prevent all workplace illnesses caused by asbestos. Because of this, employees should understand if exposure to asbestos is possible and what steps an employer is taking to guard the employee from exposure. If an employer fails to meet specific standards, an employee may be able to take action if they suffer a workplace disease related to asbestos exposure.

A workers' compensation claim could help the harmed employee cover the expenses resulting from an asbestos exposure, such as medical bills, rehabilitation and lost wages. Those suffering from an illness or disease related to asbestos should take steps understand employee rights. Additionally, employees could take action to hold an employer responsible for not providing a safe and healthy work environment.

Source:, "What is asbestos?" accessed Sept. 26, 2015

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