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Asbestos uncovered while constructing North Carolina power plant

On a major industrial construction site, heavy-duty machinery and scaffolding are probably considered to be among the most likely causes of a workplace accident. However, some work-related health issues take more time to develop. Although asbestos has been banned from new construction for many years, many North Carolina workers are still threatened by the long-term health risks posed by the harmful substance.

Recently, construction crews uncovered an area riddled with asbestos as they were building a new natural gas power plant. As the crews were in the process of excavating the site, they found an old structure that contained asbestos. Their work stopped immediately and OSHA quickly reported to the scene to investigate.

A spokesperson for the energy company overseeing the construction, says there have been no immediate reports of health concerns among workers, but they will not be resuming work until all hazardous materials are cleared.

Asbestos has been the subject of discussion over the last several years, as it has led to many cases of mesothelioma, a rare, but potent form of lung cancer. Though no workers involved in this incident have shown signs of respiratory distress as of now, the effects of asbestos exposure may not become apparent for years.

Even though it appears as though the crews took all the right steps to minimize exposure, it is still important to monitor the health of the workers over time. At the same time, workers who fall sick because they are exposed to a harmful substance on the job, they may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits, even if all the necessary safety precautions were followed.

Going forward, the construction site managers for the power plant will want to proceed with caution, as further excavation and construction may unearth additional stores of asbestos. The livelihood of many North Carolinians may depend on it.

Source: WECT-TV News, "Asbestos found during construction of new Sutton Plant," Justin West, May 7, 2012

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