USDA employees concerned about asbestos exposure

22 Jun 2018 by under News

800px Bauer Elementary ASBESTOS 2 100x100 USDA employees concerned about asbestos exposureEmployees who work inside the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) building are concerned that they are being exposed to and lead paint, which has prompted an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The union is also accusing management of failing to give sufficient notice about the abatement of and lead within the building or maintaining secure, sealed physical barriers between the abatement efforts near staff.

“You have a lot of people here that are frustrated and feel as though their health is not being considered,” Sherrie Carter told Farm Futures. She is president of a union locally affiliated with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “It should’ve been handled way differently.”

Some employees who work near abatement sites have reported feeling ill. But the USDA has tight restrictions on telecommuting, leaving employees with few options but to work within the mess.

The USDA confirmed that crews are working to remove asbestos and lead from the building, but say they have given employees ample warning and allowed some to telecommute. The agency also said that “protection procedures” are in place but would not elaborate on what measure were taken to ensure the safety of employees.

Lead and asbestos are two primary hazards with renovations of older buildings. Asbestos is a mineral that was commonly used in building materials. Asbestos does not pose risks if left undisturbed. But when disturbed, as with abatement efforts, microscopic asbestos fibers can be released into the air and inhaled. Asbestos causes serious lung diseases including asbestosis and , a rare and deadly form of cancer that forms in the lining of internal organs, particularly the lungs.

It can take 10 to 50 years after asbestos exposure for symptoms of mesothelioma to appear. Once diagnosed, the disease usually proves deadly within 12 to 24 months.

Source: Farm Futures

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