As an employer, you have a duty to provide a safe working environment for your employees. However, despite your best efforts, accidents can still happen. One accident that can have serious consequences for both you and your employees is exposure to asbestos, which can lead to mesothelioma.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a form of deadly cancer that impacts the lining of the lungs, abdomen, and heart. It’s caused by exposure to a dangerous mineral known as asbestos, which was commonly used in manufacturing, construction, and other applications during the 1970s. While it can take years or even decades for mesothelioma to develop, the consequences can be devastating for those affected and their families.
Of workers who experience prolonged exposure to asbestos, roughly 8 to 13 percent will develop mesothelioma. And while research shows no amount of exposure is safe, the risk of developing the disease increases when there’s multiple years of exposure.
Generally, symptoms of mesothelioma don’t show up until 20 to 60 years after exposure to asbestos. By the time these symptoms emerge, tumors have usually emerged and spread. The average life expectancy is 12 to 22 months.
What Employers Need to Know
If one of your employees has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be wondering what your obligations are under workers’ compensation laws.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what employers need to know about mesothelioma and workers’ compensation.
Workers Compensation and Complications
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that offers specific benefits to employees who become injured or sick due to performing their work duties. The specifics of workers’ compensation laws vary by state, but in general, if an employee is injured or becomes ill as a result of their work, they are entitled to benefits regardless of who was at fault for the injury or illness.
When it comes to mesothelioma, workers’ compensation can be a complicated issue. Because mesothelioma can take years or even decades to develop, it’s often difficult to determine when and where an employee was exposed to asbestos. In some cases, the exposure may have occurred at a previous job or even outside of work.
However, if an employee can demonstrate that their mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos on the job, they may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits may include payment of medical bills, lost wages, and compensation for permanent disability.
It’s also important to note that if an employee files a workers’ compensation claim for mesothelioma, they may also be able to pursue a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the asbestos-containing products they were exposed to. This is known as a third-party lawsuit and can result in additional compensation for the employee and their family.
Be Proactive With Protection
As an employer, you should take steps to protect your employees from exposure to asbestos. This includes identifying any asbestos-containing materials in your workplace and taking steps to remove or encapsulate them. If removal is not possible, you should provide your employees with personal protective equipment, such as respirators and protective clothing.
Know How to Respond
In addition to protecting your employees from asbestos exposure, you should also be prepared to respond if an employee does develop mesothelioma. This includes providing them with information on their rights under workers’ compensation laws and helping them navigate the claims process.
You also need to be proactive in your communication with your employees about the risks of asbestos exposure and the steps you are taking to protect them. By being transparent and open about the issue, you can build trust with your employees and create a safer workplace.
Stay in the Know
As a business owner, you owe it to yourself, your business, and your employees to be in the know when it comes to asbestos exposure and the topic of mesothelioma. By taking proactive measures to reduce the risk of exposure, you can prevent future health issues and legal complications down the road.
Mesothelioma is a frustrating and deadly disease that has to be taken seriously. By the time you realize what’s going on, it’s already too late. Get ahead of this issue by dotting every “I” and crossing every “T.”
Interesting Related Article: “Wellness Incentives for a Healthier Workplace“