Asbestos Worker’s Rights

Senator Barbara Favola’s proposed legislation SB 482 to improve training for those who remove asbestos and to implement better reporting of health and safety violations, including more stringent penalties for employers who violate these standards, passed the Virginia Senate unanimously on Friday, February 3rd.


The bill also requires employers to provide each licensed asbestos worker with a written notice containing the following information: (i) that the worker has the right to work in a safe environment, (ii) a summary of basic safety rules for handling asbestos, and (iii) information on how to file a complaint with the Board.


According to the U.S. Department of Labor division of Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), “the inhalation of asbestos fibers by workers can cause serious diseases of the lungs and other organs that may not appear until years after the exposure has occurred. For instance, asbestosis can cause a buildup of scar-like tissue in the lungs and result in loss of lung function that often progresses to disability and death.” 




"It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. Yet labor advocates say the people who are licensed to remove asbestos may not be fully aware of the dangers posed by toxic chemicals. That’s why Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) and Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31) have introduced legislation to tighten regulation on the industry, creating new restrictions on how workers are licensed and increased notification of the dangers of working with asbestos.


"'Asbestos workers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the commonwealth, and it is critical to ensure workers are well-trained and companies understand that there is state oversight body to protect both the public health and workers who handle dangerous asbestos,' said Favola.


"The vast majority of asbestos workers in Northern Virginia are Latino immigrants, many of whom have a tenuous grasp on the English language. As a result, Ebbin and Favola are concerned that the language barrier may be creating a situation where workers are handling toxic materials without a full understanding of the dangers."


The Connection 2/9/2012




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