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Are demolition companies putting their employees at risk in Iowa?

On Behalf of | Jun 13, 2024 | Workplace Injuries

Demolition is a requisite for many development projects. Unfortunately, this process can pose a both obvious and hidden health hazard for workers on the ground. For example, without thorough building inspection prior to demolition, workers are at risk of asbestos exposure. Asbestos was once widely used in construction because researchers discovered that it’s fire resistant. However, new research later revealed that this fibrous mineral is a serious health hazard.

Even though asbestos use was eventually banned across various industries, many buildings constructed before the ban most likely contain asbestos. Even today, individuals can sustain respiratory illnesses if they inhale asbestos over an extended period. This begs the critical question: are demolition companies putting their employees at risk of asbestos exposure?

Regulatory framework and compliance

Due to the health risks asbestos inhalation can pose when demolition disrupts these materials, regulatory bodies have established guidelines for asbestos removal before demolition. Demolition companies are required to commission thorough inspections to establish if buildings have asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).

Unfortunately, many unethical companies proceed with demolition without removing the ACMs first. Bypassing asbestos removal prior to demolition can expose unsuspecting workers to serious health concerns. Recent incidents in Iowa highlight the dangers the unlawful release of asbestos can pose to workers and surrounding communities.

The Keokuk case

A demolition company in Keokuk, Iowa, was found guilty of what many other demolition companies probably practice. The company bypassed the proper procedures for asbestos removal prior to several demolition projects. Its failure to conduct thorough assessments of the buildings resulted in the release of high quantities of asbestos fibers into the environment. This oversight posed a health hazard to demolition workers on the ground as well as the neighboring community.

Health risks to workers

The scariest part about asbestos exposure is the fact that it could take years for the symptoms to develop. As such, workers who get exposed end up living their lives waiting for a ticking time bomb to go off eventually. And by the time the symptoms show up, the damage to the lungs is usually irreversible. Mesothelioma is particularly common among those who are exposed to asbestos-containing materials. It is a rare lung cancer, and patients have a low recovery when diagnosed.

Demolition employees who realize that the company they work for has exposed them to asbestos may have options for legal recourse. With the help of the appropriate legal assistance, they can pursue compensation as they anticipate any symptoms of respiratory illnesses.