In the past, the versatility of asbestos led to its use in a number of products and processes. Since then, evidence of its toxicity has been discovered, which has led both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue a number of safety-related mesothelioma guidelines and asbestos regulations to protect the public. Despite the existence of these asbestos regulations, they are only effective when or if they are properly followed. There are some employers and manufacturers who refuse to adhere to asbestos regulations, either to cut corners or due to blatant negligence. As a result, many more people are expected to develop asbestos-related conditions in the coming years, even with OSHA and EPA asbestos regulations in effect. Consequently, the number of people filing Mesothelioma asbestos lawsuits is also expected to spike, as more and more people are diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer and other asbestos diseases.
EPA Asbestos Regulations
Among its various asbestos regulations in recent decades, one of the most notable is the EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). While the initial act was passed in 1976 and primarily focused on PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) products, Congress added a second subchapter to the TSCA in 1986 that was entitled “Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response.” Through this amendment to the TSCA, Congress empowered the EPA to enact asbestos regulations for schools. In addition, these asbestos regulations also required asbestos inspectors to become adequately accredited.
When Was Asbestos Banned?
The answer to this question is complicated. By 1989, the negative health effects of asbestos were widely known, and the EPA took measures to significantly limit the use of asbestos through a new asbestos regulation known as the “Materials Ban.” This 1989 EPA regulation forbade the use of asbestos in a number of products; however, the ban was later overturned in 1991 by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Despite the general overturn of the ban, certain materials such as paper, flooring felt, and rollboards remained banned from using asbestos. Also, still in effect was the ban on “new uses” of asbestos, meaning that anything that had not previously been produced with asbestos could not start being produced with the toxic mineral. Since 1991, the EPA has issued a series of other asbestos regulations regarding the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of asbestos products.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that is naturally able to hold up against numerous conditions such as:
- Harsh chemicals.
- High heat.
- Intense electrical currents.
- Significant friction.
This durability led to its use in construction materials, fireproof gear, and various, widely used textiles and applications.
OSHA Asbestos Regulations
Currently, 24 U.S. states, along with Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, have OSHA-approved and OSHA-monitored state plans for job safety programs. These programs require that states:
- Set job safety regulations that are “at least as effective as” federal regulations regarding workplace health and safety.
- Regularly inspect occupational environments to ensure compliance with job safety regulations.
- Offer training and education to employers and employees regarding workplace health issues, including asbestos exposure.
- Help employers evaluate and fix all known and potential hazards.
Because over half of the states in the U.S. have their own health programs, OSHA has also issued various acts to protect workers at risk for asbestos exposure and related diseases. Among the notable acts is the OSH Act, particularly Section 5 entitled the “General Duty Clause.” According to the General Duty Clause, employers are legally and ethically obligated to provide their employees with a safe working environment that is free from known hazards such as asbestos.
Asbestos Cancer Statistics
The reason for the EPA and OSHA asbestos regulations is best understood by viewing the statistics regarding the dangers of asbestos.
- Each year, about 10,000 Americans die from an asbestos-related cancer.
- One in every 125 men over 50 dies from an asbestos-related cancer condition.
- Since 1979, over 230,000 Americans have died from an asbestos-related disease.
- The three U.S. cities that have the highest cancer deaths related to asbestos each year are Los Angeles (California), Cook County (Illinois), and Philadelphia (Pennsylvania).
Given the fact that both the EPA and OSHA have issued a number of asbestos regulations, many employers have taken measures to reduce workplace asbestos exposure. Due to their efforts at following these asbestos regulations, they are saving thousands of lives. Sadly, however, some people will continue developing asbestos diseases, as asbestos regulations are not fully or properly adhered to.
In these cases, it’s essential for those diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition to seek immediate mesothelioma treatment and legal counsel. While medical treatment may help stop the progression of potentially fatal asbestos diseases, there are financial and emotional consequences that will continue to be problematic for the victim and the victim’s family. For this reason, a lawyer is nearly as important as medical care. Securing the services of an attorney that specializes in asbestos cases can help patients win compensation for employer negligence regarding asbestos regulations.
The effects of asbestos exposure have proven deadly for hundreds of thousands of Americans. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos disease due to an employer’s failure to follow OSHA and/or EPA asbestos regulations, talk to an asbestos attorney today. The right attorney will start your case after explaining your legal options, so that you can get the money that you need and the justice that you deserve.