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Workers’ Cancer Diagnoses Trigger Asbestos Investigation in New York

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A state inspection of the Nassau coliseum in New York State commenced on Friday, after maintenance employees complained that many of the building’s indoor work areas were covered with what appeared to be asbestos, according to NBC New York News.

About a dozen workers spoke with NBC anonymously for fear of losing their jobs and expressed that they were worried about their safety. The workers voiced concerns that the suspected asbestos in the coliseum may have played a role in the development of mesothelioma and cancer in two of their longtime colleagues. “Sometimes we have to drill into it and the fibers fly everywhere,” said one worker. “We’ve raised questions about it for years and were always told it was nothing,” said another.

But plans may already be underway to sue Nassau County, which owns the coliseum. According to the attorney representing one of the workers, samples of the suspect material collected by his client earlier this year revealed hazardous levels of potentially airborne asbestos in several areas of the coliseum. While some affected areas, like the coliseum’s boiler room and loading docks, were only accessed by employees, others areas, such as stairwells, were open to the public as well.

“I don’t know if the public is at risk,” said attorney Joseph Dell, who represents the carpenters, electricians, plumbers, stagehands and other workers who may be involved in the forthcoming lawsuit. “My concern is for those working in it every day. They make their livings in that building, and they don’t want it shut down. They just want answers.”

Earlier this week, inspectors from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) commenced a separate investigation of the structure. OSHA spokesperson Edmund Fitzgerald reported in a statement, “OSHA opened an inspection at the coliseum Tuesday in response to a worker complaint. The purpose will be to determine if there are any violations of workplace health and safety standards.”

What Should I Know About Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral that can be found in building materials, friction products, fabrics, packaging, gaskets and coatings. Valued for its heat and flame-resistant properties, asbestos has been used widely throughout the world for centuries, although concerns about its safety triggered a great reduction of the industry in the 1970s.

The Environmental Protection Agency warns that asbestos-containing materials can present a hazard when they are damaged or disturbed during construction, remodeling or demolition activities. When this happens, the surrounding air becomes filled with microscopic fibers that can be inhaled, causing significant damage to the lungs.

Common Sources of Asbestos Exposure

The most common source of asbestos exposure occurs to people working in industries that mine, make or use asbestos products, and those living near these industries, including:

Additionally, people who live or work around asbestos-containing products such as insulation, fireproofing, acoustical materials, and floor tiles that are deteriorating, damaged or disturbed may also be at risk.

Have You Been Exposed to Toxic Airborne Asbestos?

Do you think you may have been exposed to hazardous airborne asbestos, either on the job or in your home? Such exposure can lead to serious health complications including lung cancer, asbestosis or mesothelioma. Don’t suffer in silence; contact our law offices today. Our experienced attorneys will provide you with a free consultation to advise you as to whether legal action makes sense in your case.

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