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Our Philadelphia Asbestos Attorneys at Shein Law Represent Workers With Asbestos Diseases

Are There Laws or Regulations That Protect Workers From Asbestos Exposure?

All workers are entitled to a safe work environment free of hazards that can cause serious injuries or health complications. That includes protecting workers from asbestos exposure. Prolonged asbestos exposure can cause a range of serious health issues, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases.

Since the dangers of asbestos have become widely known, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal agencies have established a range of laws and regulations that address the use, handling, and disposal of asbestos to protect workers. In March 2024, the EPA announced a final rule prohibiting the ongoing use of chrysotile asbestos, the last form of asbestos imported or used in consumer products. The ban marks the first rule finalized under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), a milestone in national chemical safety efforts, receiving near-unanimous approval in Congress.

While prolonged asbestos exposure is more likely to cause mesothelioma and other asbestos-related severe diseases, there is no safe level of exposure. Even a few days of asbestos exposure can increase the risk of mesothelioma, lung cancer, or other serious health complications. When asbestos-containing materials or products are disturbed or damaged in some way, asbestos dust and fibers can be released into the air and inhaled. The following are examples of laws and regulations implemented by the EPA that protect workers in Pennsylvania and across the country from asbestos exposure:

  • Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA): This law required the EPA to announce regulations requiring local educational agencies to inspect school buildings for asbestos-containing materials, prepare asbestos management plans, and take the necessary actions to prevent or reduce asbestos exposure.
  • The Asbestos Information Act (AIA): This Act has helped identify companies making products containing asbestos and required manufacturers to report the production to the EPA.
  • Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Reauthorization Act (ASHARA): This law extended funding for asbestos abatement laws and school grant programs. It directed the EPA to increase the training hours required under the Asbestos Model Accreditation Plan (MAP). This would expand the accreditation requirements to cover asbestos abatement projects in all public and commercial buildings and schools.
  • The Clean Air Act: This addresses the EPA’s responsibilities for protecting the country’s air quality and the ozone layer. It also includes provisions establishing national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants, including asbestos.
  • Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA): Under this law, the EPA sets standards for the quality of the country’s drinking water and oversees the states, localities, and water suppliers implementing those standards.
  • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA): This law was enacted to address abandoned hazardous waste sites and respond to the release or potential release of asbestos into the environment.

What Are Examples of Asbestos-Related Regulations?

The EPA is responsible for regulating asbestos-containing materials (ACM). The following are examples of the EPA’s regulations governing asbestos:

  • Toxic Substances Control Act: According to the TSCA’s reporting and recordkeeping requirements, persons who manufactured or processed asbestos in the last four years must report certain exposure-related information, including the quantities of asbestos manufactured or processed, the types of use, and employee data. This also covers articles where asbestos is a component of a mixture.
  • Restrictions on discontinued uses of asbestos: The EPA may review an expansive list of asbestos products that are no longer on the market before they can be sold again in the United States. Anyone subject to this rule must notify the EPA at least 90 days before manufacturing, importing, or processing asbestos-containing products.
  • Asbestos-containing materials in schools: Local education agencies are required to inspect their school buildings for asbestos-containing materials, develop an asbestos management plan, and take the necessary actions to prevent or reduce asbestos hazards. Public and private schools are subject to these requirements.
  • EPA’s Asbestos Worker Protection Rule: The EPA extended worker protection requirements to state and local government employees involved in asbestos work not previously covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) asbestos regulations.
  • Asbestos Ban and Phase-Out Rule: In 1989, the EPA banned most asbestos-containing products. However, in 1991, the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, remanded the majority rule. Today, only a few asbestos-containing materials are banned.
  • National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP): The Clean Air Act of 1970 requires the EPA to develop and enforce regulations to protect the general public from exposure to airborne contaminants, like asbestos, that are known to be hazardous to human health.

In addition to the EPA, OSHA enforces regulations meant to protect employees and ensure that work environments are safe and free of any hazards. The following regulations apply to handling asbestos in the workplace:

  • Asbestos General Standard: Specification of permissible exposure limits, engineering controls, worker training, labeling respiratory protection, and disposal of asbestos waste.
  • Asbestos Construction Standard: This covers any construction work that involves asbestos, including demolitions and renovations, worker training, disposal of asbestos waste, and specification of permissible exposure limits.
  • Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA): This is responsible for overseeing the safety and health of miners. The following regulations apply to asbestos in mines:
    • Surface mines: Exposure limits, engineering controls, and respiratory protection measures in surface mines.
    • Underground mines: Exposure limits, engineering control, and respiratory protection measures for workers in underground mines.

Our Philadelphia Asbestos Attorneys at Shein Law Represent Workers With Asbestos Diseases

If you or a loved one was diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, or another asbestos-related disease, do not hesitate to contact our Philadelphia asbestos attorneys at Shein Law. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 877-743-4652 or contact us online. Our offices are located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, where we serve clients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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