The Veterans Administration has been getting plenty of bad press recently, and now the U.S. Office of the Special Counsel is accusing the management of one branch of knowing about long-standing asbestos contamination that put countless employees and patients at risk of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. According to a report released last week, management at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts knew about the presence of the lethal carcinogen as long ago as 2014, yet did nothing to alert those who were at risk of its dangers or to take steps to make the location more safe.
Asbestos is a fiber that was used for decades to fabricate and insulate buildings, but its use was largely stopped after it was discovered that it was the cause of the rare and fatal form of cancer known as mesothelioma. Though it is not at all uncommon for buildings that were constructed prior to the 1980s to have been built using the material, there is a responsibility that building management takes action to protect those who may be exposed to it, especially if it is vulnerable to deterioration and its fibers becoming airborne. According to a letter sent to President Donald Trump and members of the House and Senate veterans’ affairs committees, there were several buildings on the Bedford V. A. campus that were significantly contaminated and which put employees and veterans at risk, yet no protection or inspection program was put in place until whistleblowers made the situation known.
Upon inspection, investigators for the Office of Special Counsel found specific instances in which workers worker put at risk of mesothelioma through airborne asbestos. Further research showed that safety measures could have been taken but weren’t, leaving a situation in which “trust between management and employees is strained,” though in defending itself the VA indicates that it does not believe that its inaction represented either “gross mismanagement” or “an abuse of power.” As a result of the Special Counsel’s report, there have been numerous recommendations made to amend the situation and protect all those who may be at risk for exposure.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of negligence or carelessness, we can offer you the legal guidance you need. Contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.