Painters not only allow homes to have a pleasant aesthetic, but provide waterproofing and anti erosion protection as well from their services. However, one lingering danger to every commercial painter in America is often taken for granted: asbestos.
Asbestos in the Walls
Thousands of homes in America still contain asbestos despite the EPA’s ban on it’s use in 1989. When undisturbed, asbestos is fairly harmless, and may produce dust of .01 asbestos fibers per cubic meter. What makes asbestos dangerous is when asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are disturbed or erode. For example, when a painter sands down a wall that contains asbestos, he may be inadvertently releasing asbestos fibers into the air that are easy to inhale, even if he’s wearing a dust mask.
Asbestos fibers kill cells in the lungs that are responsible for transferring oxygen and carbon dioxide. Not only can this cell death lead to a hardening of lung tissue, known as “asbestosis,” but is also linked to the development of tumors in the mesothelium (mesothelioma). Furthermore, asbestos can travel to other parts of a building a painter is working in, if the building has enough ventilation. Asbestos fibers can also travel on a painter’s clothes, posing a risk to other people the painter comes into contact with.
The only person who can say beyond a doubt if asbestos is present in a work area is a trained asbestos investigator. Though asbestos is more likely to be in buildings built before the 1980s, modern homes may also contain asbestos if they were made with parts manufactured before 1989. Some property owners may know, or have a reasonable suspicion, that their property contains asbestos and fail to alert workers of their risk. This is a wrongful act, and may result in irreversible damage to workers’ well-being and life expectancy.
Options After Asbestos Exposure
Your top priority in nearly any occupational situation is to look after your own health. If you believe you’ve been exposed to asbestos, inform your supervisor and seek medical attention immediately. Asbestos exposure can be difficult for medical professionals to detect in some cases, but receiving early medical care is the best way to mitigate any damages that could result from asbestos exposure. It’s crucial to keep any documentation during this process, like medical bills, time off work, lifestyle changes, or any other evidence that you’ve sustained damages as a result of asbestos exposure.
Your next big step should be to consult with an experienced asbestos injury lawyer. Seeking compensation after an asbestos-related injury is complicated, after all, your lawyer will have to prove that you’ve been exposed to asbestos, that this exposure caused your damages, and that these damages are the result of another party’s actions.
However, determining who is at fault for your damages can be a huge challenge on it’s own in these cases. For example, it’s possible that no one at the work area had a reasonable way of knowing asbestos was present, and therefore the people who originally installed or manufactured the asbestos-containing materials would be pursued for damages. Sometimes these companies have gone out of business, or can be nearly impossible to find without the help of a seasoned asbestos injury lawyer.
Fortunately, most injury lawyers give free consultations and will give you an idea of how your case will be represented. A trusted lawyer will know how to value your injuries and will attempt to ensure that the settlement you receive fully compensates you.