Contracting an illness due to poor workplace conditions and a lack of health and safety regulations can have a major impact on your life. In some cases, that condition may be easily treatable and may be relatively short-lived. But in others, it can have a profound impact on how you live, and it may even shorten your lifespan.
If you have been exposed to asbestos at work and have suffered health consequences as a result, then you need to know your rights. Find out how you can make a claim against those responsible and what your claim covers.
What is Asbestos & Why is it Dangerous ?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material. It was used globally in buildings for strengthening structures and insulation. As its threat to health was uncovered, most countries banned its use, but it is still used in the U.S.
The detrimental effects of asbestos are now well documented. As the fibers are very small, they are easily inhaled and carried to the lungs when disturbed during demolition or other construction work. They can cause a range of conditions, including:
- Fibrotic lung diseases (asbestosis)
- Changes to the chest cavity lining (pleura)
Both these conditions can lead to deterioration of your respiratory function and death. Inhaling the fibers over an extended period can also lead to lung cancer and mesothelioma. These conditions can lead to an enlarged heart.
What Are My Chances of Contracting an Asbestos-Related Condition?
Limited exposure to asbestos is unlikely to lead to any adverse health condition. The three main risk factors are:
- If you are working in an area with high levels of asbestos
- If you are working in an area with asbestos for a prolonged period
- If your job exposes you to asbestos on a regular and frequent basis
Is Asbestos Really Still a Problem?
The U.S. is one of the few developed countries that still allow the use of asbestos. The range of workers in the U.S. who risk exposure to asbestos include:
- Shipyard workers
- Power plant workers
- Construction workers
- Industrial workers
- Auto mechanics
Asbestos exposure remains the primary cause of work-related deaths worldwide. Around 90,000 people die every year as a result of asbestos-related conditions. And about 1.3 million American workers remain at risk every day.
Will Workers’ Compensation Cover any Asbestos Conditions?
Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) requires that employers in the state must provide compensatory coverage for all workers, even seasonal workers, in the event of a workplace injury or condition. This would typically cover any medical expenses and lost wages as well as compensation to the family in the event of death.
However, entitlement to workers’ compensation would normally bar you from pursuing a claim against your employer – or against co-workers – for negligence in causing your injury. However, in 2013, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled that employers are liable to claims for asbestos-related injuries or conditions and removed the previous restrictions on doing so in the WCA. This ruling also applies to some other occupational diseases.
If you feel this is relevant to you, speak to an experienced Philadelphia workers compensation attorney to see if you have a legitimate case.
Asbestos-related conditions can have a severe impact on your life and may dramatically shorten your lifespan. People with asbestosis can live decades with their condition, but they will still experience adverse effects. If you have developed mesothelioma, then the prognosis can be severe, with many given less than a year to live. If you need a Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer, contact The Law Offices of Joel J. Kofsky to schedule a no-obligation consultation at (215) 735-4800.