Following a series of articles that appeared in the Detroit Free Press, residents of the state of Michigan’s are concerned that contractors violating asbestos regulations are putting their workers and the public at risk for malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. In response, the state’s lawmakers are presenting new, bipartisan legislation aimed at strengthening compliance with the law and greater protections for all those that could be exposed to the carcinogenic material.
The mesothelioma concerns come amidst an enormous redevelopment boom for the city of Detroit. According to recent reports by local news media, environmental and workplace regulations about the handling of asbestos are being ignored amidst a “lack of oversight” of contractors. Journalists found that untrained workers were routinely handling the dangerous material without the advantage of protective equipment or clothing, and in many cases without appropriate training. The legislation being introduced in the Michigan house would require contractors to undergo background checks and to disclose violations of state and federal environmental laws. The bill would also provide agencies the latitude to withhold payment from any contractors found to be negligent in the way they conduct asbestos-related projects, and gives the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality the ability to impose tougher penalties and fines on those that violate the law.
Speaking of the proposed law, state representative Stephanie Chang said, “What I’m hoping for is a little bit more accountability and transparency when it comes to contracting. The hope is that this will help improve the process for making sure we have environmentally sound practices for abating asbestos. Give the high number of abatement projects that are going on, I want to protect public health so that people can be sure that when blight is being addressed in their neighborhood, they’re not also going to be breathing in asbestos.”
Exposure to asbestos causes long-term health impacts, including a risk of the rare and fatal form of cancer known as malignant mesothelioma. If you have been diagnosed with this disease and need information on your rights, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.