How can Occupational Exposure to Asbestos Occur on Ships?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides information for workers and supervisors on ships so that they can reduce the risks of occupational exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a known carcinogen, and exposure to asbestos is known to cause serious diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer and asbestosis.
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As a site supervisor, you should be aware that you and your workers can be exposed to asbestos in several ways, occupationally. When asbestos containing material (ACM) has deteriorated, has been crushed, or otherwise disturbed, the asbestos break up into very fine fibers and are released to the environment by either dispersing in the air, floating on water, or accumulating on the ground.
Exposure to asbestos can occur by:
I. Occupational exposure: Workers may be exposed to asbestos if working at facilities, including ships, which contain asbestos. Because asbestos fibers are small and light, they can be suspended in the air for long periods and possibly inhaled by those working in these areas. Airborne asbestos fibers are small, odorless, and tasteless. They range in size from 0.1 to 10 microns in length (a human hair is about 50 microns in diameter).
The amount of asbestos a worker is exposed to will vary according to the concentration of fibers in the air; duration of exposure; The worker's breathing rate (workers doing manual labor breath faster); weather conditions; and the protective devices the worker wears.
It is estimated that between 1940 and 1980, 27 million Americans had significant occupational exposure to asbestos. People may also ingest asbestos if they eat in areas where there are asbestos fibers in the air.
During ship scrapping, the most significant asbestos concerns for workers arise when removing asbestos-bearing thermal insulation; handling of circuit breakers, cable, cable penetrations; and removing floor tiles (from asbestos in the mastic and in the tile). Additional concerns can arise from handling and removing gaskets with piping and electrical systems, as well as molded plastic parts.
II. Paraoccupational exposure: Workers’ families may inhale asbestos fibers released by their clothes that have been in contact with ACM.
III. Neighborhood exposure: People who live or work near asbestos-related operations may inhale asbestos fibers that have been released into the air by these operations.
Weitz & Luxenberg is a leading plaintiffs' law firm that has represented people affected by mesothelioma for over 20 years. Men and women diagnosed with mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure may be entitled to compensation from the companies responsible for their disease. If you would like a free consultation or more information about your legal options, please complete the form below, and a representative of our law firm will contact you as soon as possible.
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