Osaka, Japan—The family of a man who worked at a fire protection equipment company has announced that it will be suing that company because it failed to protect its workers from the hazard of asbestos.
Kansai Hochiki Engineering, which is based in Osaka, deals in fire-protection equipment. The worker named in the lawsuit was a maintenance engineer for fire alarms, and worked at Kansai Hochiki for over two decades. He was diagnosed with an asbestos related illness in 2005. In 2007, the case was officially designated as a work-related illness.
Asbestos exposure is associated with a number of devastating and even fatal diseases, such as mesothelioma, a cancer of the lungs’ membranous lining, and asbestosis, a non-malignant scarring of the lungs’ tissue. Once highly regarded for its ability to withstand heat, flame and chemical corrosion, asbestos has fallen out of favor as a building material since its carcinogenic nature has been established. Nevertheless, it remains in a number of buildings, such as factories, mills, plants, schools and even private homes, around the world.
The family of the man, whose name has not yet been released, claims that Kansai Hochiki failed to protect him while he worked with the asbestos material, and that he was further forced to work in small, cramped spaces with inadequate ventilation.
Since the asbestos fibers must be either inhaled or ingested in order to lead to asbestos-related diseases—they lodge in the mesothelium, which surrounds and protects the lungs and other organs, after being breathed in—proper ventilation, as well as protective gear, must be used in any workplace where asbestos is present.
The average life expectancy for someone who has contracted mesothelioma is six to 18 months, although many patients die sooner than that. There is no cure for this rare form of cancer, although it can be treated with varying degrees of success.
The unidentified man’s family is seeking 60 million yen, or roughly $680,000 USD, in compensation for the man’s death.