A whistleblower at Audie Murphy VA Hospital reported unsafe levels of asbestos exposure amongst maintenance workers in the medical center. The Veterans Administration has yet to admit to any wrongdoing, despite the Office of Special Counsel confirming most of the whistleblower’s allegations.
The maintenance worker claimed that he and others were ordered to work in asbestos-contaminated areas without precautions or protective equipment. Asbestos-containing materials present included roof shingles and cement, floor tiles, and plumbing.
It was verified that no VA employees, patients, or visitors were found to have been harmed by asbestos, but the medical center managers failed to provide a medical surveillance program for workers exposed to asbestos at or above acceptable limits. There is really no telling how much asbestos these workers have been exposed to.
Maintenance workers in hospitals, schools, and other commercial buildings are some of those most at risk for developing an asbestos-related disease due to exposure on the job. Many of these commercial buildings were constructed with asbestos-containing materials, and pose a hazard to workers when repairs are made. Employers are required to keep workers informed about the locations and condition of asbestos-containing materials in older buildings, as well as protect them from unnecessary exposure.
Are you a maintenance worker in an older commercial building? It would be wise to alert your doctor to the possibility of asbestos exposure at your job. Many asbestos-related diseases are mistaken for other respiratory conditions, and providing your work history will allow your doctor to more accurately track any symptoms of asbestos illnesses.
Source: San Antonio Express News