A new online petition is urging the Saskatchewan legislature to approve a mandatory online registry of asbestos-containing public buildings in the province.
“Howard’s Law” (the bill 604 petition is here) was named in honor of asbestos advocate Howard Willems, who succumbed to mesothelioma cancer last November. Mesothelioma is a rare but aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibers.
According to Canadian-based CKOM, the goal of Howard’s Law is to protect construction workers, emergency responders and others from coming into contact with asbestos. Exposure to this toxic mineral can cause serious and fatal illnesses, including mesothelioma.
The bill was introduced last November by the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party and is currently awaiting a vote by Members of the Legislative Assembly.
“That was Howard’s wish, just that people have that knowledge and that the proper people deal with it,” said Jennifer Miller, Vice-President of Health Education at the Lung Association of Saskatchewan. According to Miller, the bill is popular among tradespeople and emergency responders. “Those are the people who need to know [about asbestos] when they’re going into a building, either to do work … or running into a burning building, they need to know,” she said.
According to Canadian-based CTV News, Howard Willems worked as a building inspector for 31 years. He claims there were no warnings on the buildings he inspected. Had he known asbestos was present, he would have taken steps to protect himself. Willems co-founded the Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization and had been lobbying for a mandatory asbestos registry when he died.
While a voluntary asbestos registry was adopted last year, it does not go far enough to protect workers, according to Willems’ stepson Jesse Todd. The voluntary registry does not include all of the necessary information to identify where the asbestos is and whether or not it is crumbling.
Disturbed asbestos fibers can become airborne and easily inhaled. “For people, especially construction workers going into these buildings, it’s important to know where the asbestos is located,” said Todd. “If they just start punching holes into these buildings, who knows what they are going to release into the air.”
As in Canada, there is no national asbestos registry system in place in the United States. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency once sponsored a National Asbestos Registry System to store data on the compliance history of firms doing demolition or renovation work. However, the current EPA website states the registry page is unavailable. It also said: “State and local agencies are no longer required to submit data uploads for inclusion in NARS.”
If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos, and have developed mesothelioma or another asbestos-related condition as a result, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Contact the experienced mesothelioma attorneys at Sokolove Law to get a free case evaluation today.