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Were workers fired over asbestos mesothelioma complaints?

In Nassau, The Bahamas, a local construction company that recently suspended a number of workers has denied that the suspensions were in any way related to asbestos complaints. The workers, who were engaged in roadwork on Baillou Hill Road for the Jose Cartellone construction company, were suspended from work for two days, allegedly because many of them complained about the presence of an asbestos-laden pipe near the work site.

Exposure to airborne asbestos particles can lead to the development of lung cancer, pleural scarring, or mesothelioma. A rare but lethal form of cancer, mesothelioma often kills within two years of being diagnosed.

"We said we’re not going in the hole until the asbestos was moved. They said those who don’t work in the hole are going to be suspended for two days without pay," said one worker, who asked to remain anonymous. "These guys got to go home to families they ain’ [sic] wearing no protective clothing, no masks. Human lives are at stake here."

According to Khader Alikhan, project manager of the Ministry of Works’ road improvement project, asbestos near the site is not unexpected.

"If it is asbestos, then it has to be handled based on the hazardous material plan that is already in place. Baillou Hill Road is a very old road and it’s possible that contractors are finding (asbestos) material, we are prepared in general for that," Alikhan said. "We have a hazmat plan, an environmental management plan and corridor specific environmental management plans."

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