Changes to Asbestos Law by California Supreme Court

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asbestos law changed by California Supreme Court

The Earl Warren Building and Courthouse, where the Supreme Court of California sits.

On December 8th, 2016, the Supreme Court of California ruled that companies may be held accountable for something known as secondary asbestos exposure in the home of a worker. In other words, companies now have the responsibility to prevent employees from accidentally carrying asbestos on their clothing or bodies into their homes where it may affect others in the household.

How the Ruling Came About

The Supreme Court of California made its ruling based on two lawsuits. In one case, a woman contracted and died from cancer caused by secondary exposure to asbestos materials from her husband who worked at the BNSF Railway Company. He had unknowingly carried the asbestos fibers home on his clothes which caused the exposure.

Another case was Heather Von St. James who contracted mesothelioma by being exposed to asbestos in her youth by her father, a construction worker, who unknowingly brought the harmful fibers into the home as well. The two cases represent many others where spouses, children, or siblings in the home were exposed to asbestos fibers brought home by someone who worked in an environment where the substance existed.

If it is found reasonable that a company can predict where any secondary exposure may occur, it must take steps to prevent it from happening. At first, it may seem like companies who operate in modern facilities or have had their asbestos removed may have little to worry about. However, it is a more complicated issue thanks to the abundant nature of serpentine, the official mineral of California.

Natural Sources of Asbestos Fibers

Serpentine is a source of chrysotile asbestos and may be released into the air from volcanic explosions, earthquakes, or when the serpentine rock is disturbed or removed in large part because of expanding housing additions. The massive growth in California’s population has led to the building of more housing additions which causes more asbestos fibers to fill the air. Natural deposits of asbestos are found in the mountain ranges to the north of the Los Angeles Basin as well as the Mojave Desert roughly 50 miles south of Las Vegas.

While natural sources of asbestos have led to concern from many companies that they might be unfairly targeted in a secondary exposure lawsuit, there are positive steps they can take to limit their risk while maximizing protection for their employees.

How Brickley Environmental Services Can Help

Brickley Environmental provides expert removal services of asbestos along with other hazards that includes mold, haz-waste, and lead-paint abatement. If your building or facility was constructed over thirty years ago, or if the structure has been compromised in terms of allowing in water from natural sources, pipes, or sewer lines, you may need the expert removal services of Brickley Environmental.

The trained technicians as Brickley Environmental will inspect your building, facility, or warehouse for evidence of hazardous material and inform you of its presence. Once identified, they can promptly remove the hazard in a professional manner which limits exposure to those inside. If you suspect that your building may be contaminated or you want to ensure compliance with the new ruling by the California Supreme Court, call or contact Brickley Environmental today.

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