Language Barrier Makes Asbestos More Dangerous for Hispanic Workers

By Peter DePaolis

Earlier this month, the National Press Club held a meeting in Washington, D.C., and mesothelioma cancer in construction workers was the main topic. Specifically, there was concern that Hispanic workers might be especially at risk for mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure at work sites.

In a report at, a Hispanic construction worker said he saw workers exposed to asbestos that was hanging from a ceiling. He said he told his boss, but his boss showed little concern for the workers’ safety. Many of the workers do not speak English and they are not familiar with workplace safety laws. The Hispanic workers think they will lose their jobs if they report the violations, said the worker at the meeting.

The workers know there are a lot of men looking for work, so their supervisors can replace them easily if they report asbestos violations. A recent report by the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley said that the majority of migrant workers in the construction industry do not even know what asbestos is. Employers tend to take advantage of their ignorance, said the study.

A person can be exposed to asbestos and not be diagnosed with mesothelioma for decades after the exposure. Sadly, once a diagnosis of mesothelioma is made, it is almost always fatal.

Do you know someone in the construction industry? Reach out to our team today.

Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P.

Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia Injury Attorneys

Approved by attorney Peter DePaolis

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.