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Industrial hygiene is one of the key factors that keep employees safe at their places of work. Hygiene in a large industry such as construction is crucial for workers’ safety, the company’s reputation, the company's finances. Only one catastrophic incident can cause lots of harm to workers, the local community and other nearby facilities. Their day-to-day operations may cause environmental exposure, which is why it is essential for contractors to understand the risks involved and develop a plan.

Demolition of the old building

In order to start a new building, construction contractors may need to demolish the old building. It might not seem like a big problem but, in reality, the demolition of an old building can be the main cause of potentially fatal illnesses developed over time by industrial workers.

One of the toxic substances that can be found in older constructions is lead dust. Lead paint was widely used in the United States for decades and the dust that results from demolition may be spread as far as 600 feet away from the jobsite. Besides lead dust, there is also asbestos in many older buildings. Asbestos is a toxic chemical that may cause severe injuries over time for workers that have been exposed to it.

Workers assigned to demolish an old building should always wear proper personal protective equipment, as well as have a good plan in order to stop the spreading of toxic substances. Asking for advice from an expert might be the best choice in a situation like this.

Safety onsite

Checking the soil before starting construction is another vital step. The same approach should be used after demolishing an old building: check the soil for remaining contaminants. Grass not growing might be a sign of toxic chemicals that are still penetrating the ground. Contaminants can easily be spread by workers and it may lead to a long series of toxic exposure cases. In the event of a pre-existing contaminant, the contractor must negotiate indemnification language that prevents the contractor from being held liable. A “Change in Conditions” clause should also be utilized if any contamination is found or uncovered.

Prevention should always be the primary focus. Workers onsite should be carefully instructed on how to perform their work, as well as being equipped accordingly. Asbestos toxic exposure cases became a serious problem once former workers started to develop fatal illnesses, such as lung cancer, and even death. Veterans that served in the army and many industrial workers that have been exposed to asbestos are now getting compensation as a result of the negligence of others.

Save yourself from potential lawsuits

Former employees can sue a previous company if they have proof of illnesses caused by the negligence of the contractor. Hundreds or even thousands of lawsuits can be filed against a contractor and this can seriously affect the company overall. When precedent can be applied, it may start raining with lawsuits for a contractor.

The only way to circumvent such issues is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Workers’ safety should be the number-one priority on a construction site. Proper equipment and training for the workers will prevent incidents from happening. Besides the safety of workers, the demolition of an old building should be done in a way that nearby communities will not be affected.

The contractor should also negotiate indemnification language for preexisting contaminants. This way, the contractor will ensure that there will not be any liabilities for a concern that the contractor is not responsible for. Last but not least, avoid lawsuits of any kind! Do not overlook any possible factor that might transform into a case.

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