If you are a homeowner, you may be somewhat familiar with asbestos, a toxic fiber that is found in many different materials that can often be found in buildings built before the 1980s.
However, workers in many different industries also need to be familiar with asbestos because it has put the lives of employees all across North Carolina in serious dangers for decades.
Asbestos was widely used in a variety of products for many years, despite the fact that it has been known for quite some time that the fibers can cause serious internal damage when breathed in. Unfortunately, millions workers have been exposed to asbestos without their knowledge and/or without proper protections for many years.
Employees working in certain industries were (and continue to be) disproportionately affected by asbestos exposure. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, this includes people who work or worked in the following occupations:
- The military
- Railroad jobs
- Auto repair/ building
- Industrial manufacturing
Workers in these industries often worked in environments where asbestos products were installed, repaired or removed which can result in the fibers being disturbed and released into the air, where they are especially dangerous.
While there are state and federal regulations that dictate how asbestos should be identified and handled, there are many employers who don't comply and instead choose to take shortcuts. When and if this happens, it is the workers who ultimately pay the price.
If you work in a job where you may have been exposed to asbestos, you should know that there are options for financial support available. In any situation involving an illness caused by workplace conditions and toxic exposure, workers' compensation benefits may be available. This money can help people get the medical care they need to monitor their health and seek treatment as well as at least partially covering their wages for time they need to take off from work as a result.