Overtime, New York workplaces have become a lot safer. Advances in technology, new research and the adoption of safety regulations have eliminated many of the risks that used to haunt New Yorkers and their families. While many of the risks could be immediately eliminated, some have lingered.

One risk that is still present for some New York workers is asbestos. Asbestos was a common building material in years past. It was used in everything from insulation to floor tiles and car parts. While asbestos has many building advantages, it was soon discovered that asbestos was very dangerous for workers. Unlike many dangers, however, the danger from asbestos cannot be seen outright.

The danger comes from the tiny fibers that make up the product. When those fibers are sent into the air and breathed in, they can damage lung tissue. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, these fibers cause scar tissue to form in a worker’s lungs. This scar tissue decreased lung function and can lead to death. Additionally, asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma, a dangerous and deadly form of cancer.

The risks of asbestos exposure cannot be minimized. OSHA says that even a very small duration of exposure — a few days — has led to serious health concerns for workers. Therefore, safety precautions have to be taken whenever there is the potential for asbestos exposure. Personal protective equipment should be utilized and strict monitoring of the airborne asbestos levels should be completed. Workers who have been exposed to asbestos should undergo medical monitoring.

When a worker suffers from a work-related illness or a work-related injury, the worker should know the person’s legal rights. Employers have to take measures to keep workers safe, otherwise the worker could be entitled to compensation.