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Asbestos exposure can cause high medical bills and lost wages

Asbestos consists of strong heat-resistant fibers, and it was widely used in the manufacture of building materials before the potential dangers were identified. Along with its use as fire retardant and insulation, asbestos was also present in roofing shingles, floor tiles, ceiling tiles and more. Illinois workers who are involved in renovation projects often face asbestos hazards that could lead to high medical bills and lost wages. Inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to lung disease, asbestosis, mesothelioma, lung cancer and other life-altering conditions.

Employers must inform workers when asbestos hazards exist on a job site and provide the necessary safety training and protective equipment to protect the employees from exposure. Full-body protection is required, including coveralls, foot and hand coverings, head coverings and respiratory equipment. Dangerous areas must be clearly marked, and no eating, drinking or smoking must be allowed in those areas. Furthermore, to avoid carrying the asbestos fibers home, workers must shower before going home and leave contaminated clothing behind.

The training must include essential awareness and recognition of asbestos during maintenance and cleaning operations. More detailed, in-depth training must be provided for work on materials known to contain asbestos as well as asbestos abatement. Workers are entitled to this protection and may refuse to work without protection where asbestos is present.

Illinois workers who suffer the consequences of asbestos exposure can pursue financial assistance through the workers' compensation insurance program. Compensation typically covers medical bills and lost wages. However, occupational diseases can take years to develop and proving an illness to be work-related may be challenging. Some workers choose to use the help of an experienced workers' compensation attorney to navigate their claims for them.

Source: safetyandhealthmagazine.com, "Suspect asbestos?", Accessed on Feb.19, 2017

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