Michigan Program Helps Contractors Understand Perils—and Rules—of Asbestos

05/17/2010 // Chicago, IL, USA // Cooney & Conway // Mesothelioma attorneys: Cooney & Conway

Officials in Michigan have discovered that behind a big, important bill lies a big, important worry.

Cities across America are using funds available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to demolish vacant and deteriorating structures to make room for new housing and other buildings. But experts say that in many cases, those in charge of the work are unaware of the asbestos standards and regulations that need to be followed—particularly asbestos surveys, which can determine whether a building contains the hazardous material.

It is a crucial issue: Asbestos has long been linked to deadly diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma, an almost always fatal cancer of the protective lining covering many of the body’s organs. Asbestos—which has insulating, acoustical, and fire-protective qualities that made it popular in insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, and spray-on fireproofing—is most hazardous when inhaled.

The dangers of asbestos make demolition and renovation projects particularly worrisome to health and safety officials, because the work often disturbs any asbestos present, releasing it into the air—and into the lungs of workers and others nearby.

Diseases like mesothelioma have been directly connected to just this kind of asbestos exposure. The lack of adequate precautions and sufficient warning has often led not only to disease but to asbestos lawsuits that mesothelioma lawyers have won or settled, in many cases, for millions of dollars or more.

In response to such risks, state officials in Michigan are giving contractors an education on the rules and risks of handling asbestos—and how to keep exposure and its deadly consequences at bay. On May 6, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) held a daylong symposium to provide information on a wide range of asbestos issues—including the asbestos regulations that have proven essential to keeping individuals safe.

“Employers have a legal responsibility to protect their workers and the general public from the hazards associated with the improper removal and/or disturbance of asbestos,” said MIOSHA Director Doug Kalinowski. “MIOSHA rules require the controlling authority of a demolition/renovation project to obtain and review a building survey prior to conducting any asbestos-related work activity.”

The idea is simple: By helping contractors understand and follow asbestos regulations, MIOSHA can keep mesothelioma and other cancers—and the asbestos lawsuits that often result—to a minimum.

Now, when will the other 49 states get that message, too?

This news article was brought to you by the asbestos mesothelioma trial lawyers at Cooney & Conway, a nationally recognized firm that has brought relief, and recovery, to people severely harmed by the actions of others—including victims of asbestos-related diseases. For more than 50 years, Cooney & Conway has obtained justice for those needlessly injured—and has successfully litigated some of the country’s most significant asbestos lawsuits.

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