Asbestos and the Workplace
Back in 1972, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act into law- asbestos risks have beset the industry with decades of health-related liability issues, resulting in ripple effects for insurers. Congress created the Federal Occupational Safe and Health Administration (OSHA), which remains at the forefront of employee safety and has had a significant impact on modern U.S. asbestos litigation.
Beyond the immediate consequences of a regulatory violation, OSHA standards impact today's asbestos litigation in three important ways:
- OSHA violations are often cited by plaintiff's counsel arguing for the imposition of a higher degree of culpability
- OSHA's applicability can allow certain knowledge to be legally imputed to a defendant (irrespective of what the defendant actually knew)
- Because OSHA's regulations control the actions of employers and their employees’ workplace, the adherence or non-adherence to OSHA standards may give rise to arguments for apportioning greater liability to defendants in physical control of the plaintiff's work space.
The current OSHA standard for workplace exposures to asbestos is .1f/cc and has been in effect since 1994.