These occupations are commonly exposed to asbestos on the job
Asbestos is a set of 6 types of mineral fibers that naturally occur in the environment. These fibers have been used since the 1800s by the manufacturing and construction industries for their strength and fire-resistance. For many years, people worked with asbestos without knowing the full reality of the potential long-term effects it could have on their health.
While asbestos doesn’t cause harm when it stays trapped within the materials it is used to make, the fibers can become airborne and inhaled. This is most likely to occur when a person is actively involved in manufacturing products that contain asbestos or if these types of material are disturbed. There are now more regulations regarding the use of asbestos, but you can still find it in many products today.
If you’ve been exposed to asbestos, you have the right to seek workers’ compensation in Georgia.
What are the signs of asbestos exposure?
Once asbestos fibers get into your body, they may stay there for years before they begin to cause health problems. Most of the signs of asbestos exposure occur in the respiratory system, and being exposed to this material is linked to increased cases of occupational cancers, asbestosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that asbestos exposure causes, and it can affect your chest and stomach lining. Asbestos is also linked to cancer in the throat and gastrointestinal tract.
Difficulty breathing, chest pains and other symptoms of cancer are a few signs that your body might be developing the side effects of asbestos exposure. People with asbestos-related diseases might also cough up blood, experience prolonged hoarseness and be easily fatigued.
Which occupations carry a high risk for asbestos-related diseases?
People who work within the construction trade are likely to come into contact with materials that are made using asbestos. It was also used in military ships, which places service members at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases, and there are many veterans today dealing with the side effects of past exposure.
What can you do to reduce the risk of asbestos exposure at work?
Every employee in a high-risk field should be aware of which materials they work with that could contain asbestos. Ideally, it’s best to avoid disturbing any materials that contain asbestos. This means that you should not hammer, saw or drill asbestos-containing materials.
If you must work in a situation where the asbestos fibers could become airborne, then you need to wear the appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE). For example, your employer should provide you with an approved respirator that has a HEPA filter.
If you are not trained in asbestos abatement, then you may need to have a professional assist you with moving any materials that contain the fibers.
Do Georgia’s workers’ comp laws cover job-related asbestos exposure?
Employees in Georgia are entitled to seek compensation if they experience an occupational health condition, and it can be used to pay for their medical treatments. If you are no longer able to work or have had to miss workdays, then you might also be able to recover money for your lost wages.
It is important to note that you can only receive compensation if your case meets the State Board of Workers’ Compensation guidelines. For example, working within certain professions that carry a high risk of asbestos exposure increases your chances of being eligible to have your health conditions covered.
How do I seek compensation for an asbestos-related health condition?
In Georgia, you must inform your employer within 30 days of receiving a diagnosis for your illness or injury. After that, you have 1 year to file your claim with the State Board. Depending upon the type of health issue that you have, there may be additional time allowed for you to file a claim since certain types of cancer take time to develop and cause symptoms.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim for work-related asbestos exposure gets tricky as you will need to prove a connection between your illness and the working conditions. You will also need to prove that you could not have developed this condition from your home environment or other lifestyle factors.
An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can walk you through the process of proving your claim. Keep in mind that suing an employer can get complicated. Making it clear that your work environment caused you to get ill not only helps you get compensation, but could also lead to changes in the workplace that protect others from harm.
Everyone who works within high-risk fields should take the appropriate precautions to avoid asbestos exposure. However, your employer also has a responsibility to provide you with a safe work environment.
If you are currently struggling with a possible asbestos-related health condition, then working with our knowledgeable Atlanta work injury lawyers to establish a workers’ comp claim can help you get the treatment you need.