In Massachusetts, whenever a property owner suspects that he or she has asbestos issues and is going to do any renovation or demolition work, it is first necessary to have a certified inspector come and take samples. These samples are sent to a materials testing lab for microscopic analysis, even if there is little question that the material contains deadly asbestos fibers.
If the presence of asbestos is confirmed, the property owner must hire an asbestos abatement contractor to handle the removal after first submitting an abatement (removal) plan to the state department of health. All personnel must be properly trained and must be wearing proper safety equipment. This includes ventilators or respirators. The purpose for all of this is to keep all workers and the community at large safe from the dangers of asbestos exposure.
Unfortunately, as our Boston mesothelioma attorneys have seen in various cases over the years, things do not always go as planned. According to a recent news article from the Eagle Tribune, the Massachusetts attorney general is seeking fines from one contractor for alleged violations. However, it should be noted that that contractor is denying that any asbestos was mishandled during the job involving a local school.
The allegations are that this contractor’s workers were improperly handling asbestos on over a hundred occasions and that, by doing so, they put students and school employees at risk for asbestos exposure. When asbestos fibers are inhaled or even ingested, they can become lodged in a layer of tissue known as the mesothelium. This layer of tissue is a membrane that surrounds most of the body’s organs and is the reason the associated cancer is known as mesothelioma. In addition to mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos can result in lung cancer, asbestosis, and other serious respiratory illnesses.
In the case, the work was performed over a two-year period beginning in 2014. There were two separate inspections performed to see if there were any dangers of exposure to the students and staff. One of these inspections was performed at the request of the attorney general, and the other was performed at the request of staff and students. According to the school, both inspections did not find any dangers associated with asbestos exposures. This is one of the reasons the contractor is denying any and all liability. However, the government is filing a suit based upon allegations that the contractor did not properly secure the area to prevent accidental exposure, did not wet the asbestos debris to prevent dust for escaping, and did not have proper supervision of all workers.
One thing to keep in mind is that if a person was exposed to the deadly fibers, it would not generally affect them immediately, as the disease takes between 20 and 50 years on average to metastasize and advance to the point where the patient will report symptoms. By this point, the mesothelioma has likely spread to other parts of the body, and the patient will not have very long to live. This long delay between exposure and reporting mesothelioma is one of the main reasons why companies were able to knowingly poison people with asbestos and get away with it for so many years. They were far more concerned with short-term profits than the health and safety of asbestos victims.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Contractor denies mishandling asbestos in school job, March 7, 2017, By Keith Eddings, Eagle Tribune
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Montana Settles Asbestos Claims for $25M, Feb. 19, 2017, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog