A quick bit of research into which occupations remain at risk for malignant mesothelioma reveals that some of our most trusted public servants rank high on the list: teachers, firefighters and first responders are frequently subjected to exposure to asbestos in their work environments, either through the pre-1980s buildings in which they work or as a result of rushing into buildings that were built using the carcinogenic materials. These and other professionals are supposed to be protected by safety regulations that limit their exposure and provide them with protective gear, but those safeguards are only effective when they are adhered to, and that is unfortunately not always the case. A recent example of this was found in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where regulations were ignored and firefighters were ordered to participate in a training session that involved a building that was contaminated with asbestos.
According to a complaint filed by the Virginia Beach Professional Firefighters union, a planned burn was scheduled without the proper due diligence being done, and as a result the firefighters who attended the training have an even greater exposure to asbestos and risk of a future mesothelioma diagnosis. Union president William Bailey released a statement saying, “The Virginia Beach Firefighters reported what were believed to be violations of federal and state laws to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia’s Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH), and the City of Virginia Beach Auditor following an internal investigation using documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act requests.” He went on to discuss the safeguards that should have been followed, saying, “Those policies, procedures and standards require the house to be absolutely safe. It should never have happened. Somebody needs to be held accountable. They trusted their senior staff organization to protect them and follow the laws.”
Virginia Beach Fire Chief David Hutcheson agreed with Bailey that there is cause for concern over mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos. “This was an opportunity to have some good training – some training that we really need – and then the proper paperwork was to followed to ensure that there was not any asbestos. We do have a check-off procedure that was not followed completely and we do have an asbestos abatement form that the homeowner is responsible to get back to us showing there is no asbestos in the structure. We failed to get that.”
People who have been exposed to asbestos are at risk for mesothelioma, and if their exposure was a result of negligence they may have a right to pursue legal action. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related disease, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244 to learn more.