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OSHA could fine demolition company $63,000 for asbestos hazards

For decades, Connecticut buildings were made with asbestos. The mineral is effective as insulation and as a fire retardant, but it can release tiny fibers that lead to cancer and other serious health problems when they get into people's lungs. The United States finally banned new uses of asbestos in 1989, but the substance still exists in many old buildings.

Recently, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited a demolition company for exposing its workers to asbestos and failing to apply required safety procedures in asbestos removal. OSHA also proposed fines totaling up to $63,000 against the company, including $49,000 in fines for "willfully" failing to follow procedures designed to minimize employees' exposure.

The citations concerned procedures during the demolition of an old school. The demolition company denies any wrongdoing.

Asbestos-related illnesses include asbestosis, a scarring of the lungs, and mesothelioma, a potentially fatal type of cancer. These conditions can require long-term medical care and loss of earning capacity. This means that workers' compensation claims in asbestos exposure cases can involve large amounts of money.

Employers and their insurers often try to fight these claims, arguing that the employer was not responsible for long-term exposure to toxic chemicals. They may argue, for instance, that the worker was exposed to asbestos at home or somewhere else, in an effort to avoid having to honor an expensive claim.

Connecticut's workers' compensation system was designed to make sure injured workers get the benefits they need quickly and easily to help them cope with the aftermath of work-related illness or injury, however, there are many times when workers have to struggle to get the benefits they deserve. At times like these, they can really benefit from the gaining help and seeking advice from someone with experience in worker's compensation law. This will allow them to understand their options properly so they can take action.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle, "OSHA cites Thompson Wrecking Co. over asbestos removal violations," Susan McCord, Jan. 15, 2014

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