Despite knowing the dangers of asbestos, some real estate developers and asbestos abatement companies have not been deterred from cutting corners. What they fail to realize, or worse, simply disregard, are the lives they risk by not following hazardous waste protocol.
We frequently talk about the risk to the workers tasked with removing asbestos, or the negative health effects improper removal can have on the inhabitants, but something less publicized are the risks to the sanitation workers who, often unknowingly, handle the cancer-causing materials.
Asbestos and sanitation workers
Unfortunately, too many real estate developers and construction site managers put their workers and the public at risk. We read in the news time and time again about asbestos-laden popcorn ceilings or floor tiles, scrapped into trash bags and tossed in general purpose dumpsters to save money. Sanitation workers, simply doing their job, may breathe in the asbestos dust. Because of that money saving decision, anyone breathing in the dust could later develop a rare and deadly form of cancer called mesothelioma.
Case in point: Florida
Late in the summer of 2018, a Florida real estate developer was sentenced with a misdemeanor for negligent removal of asbestos and risking the lives of workers. The judge ordered 48 months of probation and required him to pay $250,000, which will fund treatment for exposed workers.
In 2015, the developer took on a large commercial remodeling project where he prioritized cost reduction over health and safety. He ordered workers to remove at least 120,000 square feet of asbestos from the building without any semblance of caution.
Not only was the toxic material improperly placed in dumpsters, court documents show that the construction dust passed freely through open windows and into the surrounding neighborhoods.
Although the $250,000 earmarked for the workers will go to a good cause, when it comes to asbestos, it seems there are always more victims than expected.