Video by Tom George/CNS-TV
WASHINGTON – The asbestos abatement industry is one of the most dangerous fields in construction.
Workers and labor leaders last Wednesday spoke out about the hazards at the National Press Club in Washington. They shared the problems they faced in the workplace and advocated for a reinforcement of current safety laws.
Labor leaders say many asbestos workers in the D.C. area are Hispanic immigrants and sometimes, in addition to the language barrier, they’re afraid to blow the whistle on safety hazards for fear of losing their jobs.
“They’ve threatened us,” explains Pedro Osorio a construction worker. “If you don’t want to work, there are 10 more who will take your place.”
They say in many cases, bosses have cut corners leading to unsafe working conditions. Asbestos has been known to cause diseases such as mesothelioma, a form of cancer.
Maryland State Senator Victor Ramirez (D-Prince George’s) said he plans on introduction legislation in the next General Assembly session in Annapolis intended to improve current regulations on asbestos abatement.