Construction workers face many hazards in the workplace. One of the most deadly does not make itself known through falls or other mishaps. Instead it works silently and is often uncovered, when the worker is the least prepared.
We are talking about asbestos exposure. Asbestos, which is used as insulation, as well as components in both cement and roofing shingles, poses no real threat until it becomes damaged or is disturbed in some way. Renovations and or when a building is being torn down is when exposure risk is the highest.
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The Risks of Asbestos
Once asbestos has been disturbed, the small mineral fibers can become airborne. They attach to the skin, hair and clothing and often travel along with the person for several days. Once it is airborne, it can be inhaled into the lungs where it can cause inflammation and other types of damage to the upper respiratory system. It has also been linked to lung and other types of cancer, and can be deadly if not properly treated.
Construction workers who are renovating old buildings or homes should always wear protective gear if there is any risk of asbestos exposure. A respirator, thick gloves and in enclosed areas, a protective suit should be worn. Asbestos is considered to be a “hazardous material” and should be handled with the utmost care.
If exposure does occur, the worker should report the incident to their employer and seek medical treatment. Prevention is the best way to avoid having to worry about the effects of asbestos, but if there is any risk of injury or illness an employer should be notified in case a workman's compensation case is filed.
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