Michigan Officials Criticized for Failing to Properly Penalize Asbestos Violations and Putting Workers at Risk.

Asbestos was once a highly common product used in manufacturing in the twentieth century. It was cheap, readily available, and also was praised for its insulation abilities and durability.  After decades of frequent use, however, scientists learned of the severely harmful effects of inhaling asbestos dust and spores.  Because of these harmful effects, state and federal agencies passed legislation to ban the use of asbestos and put heavy restrictions on how already existing asbestos is to be handled and destroyed.  What happens, however, when a state doesn’t enforce those rules?  Without regulation, employers and industries may be tempted to expose their workers to asbestos in order to save money, putting their workers lives at risk.  When that happens, oftentimes the only way a worker and their family may recover for their injuries is by a successful personal injury lawsuit.

Michigan, for example, has recently come under fire due to its alleged lack of effective oversight for asbestos projects, especially in Detroit.  The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) says it does not have enough inspectors to police all abatement projects.  MIOSHA will lower fines if employers remove asbestos and other hazardous materials in a timely fashion; but according to freep.com, multiple violating companies received drastic fine reductions without properly removing asbestos.  Investigators claim that MIOSHA rarely visits violating construction sites and does not independently confirm that violators are complying with state law.  Further, MIOSHA allegedly permits fine reductions to companies that continue to flagrantly violate proper and appropriate asbestos protocols.

When investigators visited “complying” construction sites, they reportedly found dozens of unlicensed and improperly trained workers removing asbestos without proper equipment.  One crew was primarily comprised of workers from a local homeless shelter who were promised quick cash, while other job sites allegedly did not provide respirators or air-tight trash bags for workers removing asbestos.  Despite these flagrant violations, it has been reported that 96% of safety violations in Michigan resulted in penalties of $1,000 or less. When many construction projects easily reach tens of millions of dollars, a $1000 fine offers no incentive to follow safety guidelines.

Exposure to asbestos dust and fiber can result in asbestosis, a chronic medical condition affecting lung tissue which makes breathing extremely difficult, in addition to other diseases such as mesothelioma. If you or a family member have been injured, or contracted a fatal disease such as mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Call our Massachusetts asbestos exposure injury attorneys 24/7 at 617-787-3700 for your free and private consultation. 

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