How Were Metal Workers Directly Exposed to Asbestos?

Posted on June 30, 2021

metal worker exposed to asbestosAsbestos was often used in metalworking facilities and foundries. Metal workers have a greater chance of developing an asbestos-related disease because many were routinely exposed to this dangerous mineral. Asbestos was heavily relied on for its durability and heat-resistant properties.

Our attorneys at PWHD further discuss the use of asbestos in the metalworking industry, including how metal workers with a job-related illness and their loved ones may be able to pursue compensation.

If you were exposed to asbestos and have since been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis or lung cancer, our firm is here to help. Learn more about your rights and legal options during a free and confidential consultation. There is no risk in calling us and no obligation to retain our services.

Talk to a licensed attorney today: 1-800-459-1881.

Asbestos Exposure in Metalworking Facilities

For most of the 20th century, asbestos and asbestos-containing products were common within the high-heat environments of metalworking facilities due to their ability to insulate and fireproof.

Metal workers may have been exposed to asbestos in various ways. Asbestos was often used in facility construction, metalworking machinery, “hot tops”, and protective equipment. As a result, many metal workers who worked with and around asbestos have now developed an asbestos-related disease.

Although new regulations have led to asbestos no longer being used in many industries, including metalwork, there is no asbestos ban in the U.S. That means asbestos may still be present in older facilities.

Asbestos-Containing Products & Construction Materials

Due to the extreme heat metal workers faced on the job, asbestos-containing products were used throughout facilities. Some metal workers manufactured metal chimney flues and galvanized steel sheets with asbestos. This meant handling asbestos products, leading to exposure.

Construction materials were used to build metalworking facilities that contained asbestos. Metal workers worked around insulated walls, ceilings and floors covered in asbestos. The dangerous mineral was also present in cement, bricks, pipes and several kinds of insulation. Workers also worked with asbestos-containing gaskets and packing used to seal valves, pumps, and other types of equipment used in metalworking facilities.

Asbestos was even used to help reinforce and refine metalworking equipment. Metal workers would coat metals with an asbestos finish to make them more durable and heat resistant. The processes of mixing, applying, and maintaining these asbestos coatings released tiny and toxic asbestos fibers into the air.

Metal workers also often wore asbestos-containing protective gear since the mineral was effective at deflecting heat and withstanding extreme temperatures. This protective gear may have included:

  • Gloves
  • Jackets
  • Helmets
  • Masks
  • Aprons
  • Shields

Repeated use of this gear can cause workers to inhale asbestos fibers.

Most At-Risk Trades in Metalworking Industry

Many trades in the metalworking industry may put workers at high risk for asbestos exposure. Any worker present when asbestos fibers became airborne may have been at risk for exposure. These fibers could have been released when metal workers were drilling, grinding, or sanding asbestos-containing materials for use.

The most at-risk trades in the metalworking industry are:

  • Assemblers
  • Boilermakers
  • Blacksmiths
  • Engineers
  • Fabricators
  • Insulators
  • Ironworkers
  • Machinists
  • Metal machine workers
  • Pipefitters
  • Sheet metal workers
  • Shipyard workers
  • Smelters
  • Welders

For instance, a machinist could have become exposed from working with asbestos gaskets and packing while installing, repairing, or overhauling pumps, valves and other equipment in the shop. A welder could have become exposed from working with asbestos-containing welding rods that were used to join metals together or using asbestos cloth to protect himself or fragile components from the heat of welding.

Metal workers are not the only ones at risk of asbestos exposure. Family members may have come into contact with the dangerous mineral. Workers may have unknowingly brought home asbestos fibers on their gear and tools, possibly exposing their loved ones to asbestos, also called secondhand asbestos exposure.

Metal Workers and Asbestos-Related Diseases

Many metal workers who were exposed to asbestos have since been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, or another asbestos-connected illness.

Some studies have shown that metal workers may be up to seven times more likely than the general population to develop mesothelioma, an incurable and aggressive form of cancer that develops in the tissue lining the lungs and chest wall or abdomen. Mesothelioma symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain and a dry chronic cough.

Asbestos exposure can also cause asbestosis, a serious lung condition caused by breathing in asbestos fibers over an extended time period. These fibers can get lodged deep in the lungs and eventually lead to scarring in the lungs. This can make it difficult to breathe.

Metal workers can even develop lung cancer after exposure to asbestos, particularly if they inhaled these toxic fibers and smoked cigarettes.

Compensation for Victims of Asbestos Exposure

Metal workers exposed to asbestos may be eligible for compensation for an asbestos-connected illness. Our attorneys at PWHD have helped many asbestos victims understand their legal options and gathered evidence on their behalf. You may be able to act against a negligent employer or other company.

There may be other options for compensation. You may be eligible to file a claim with an asbestos trust fund or file a workers’ compensation claim. If a loved one has passed from an asbestos-related disease, certain surviving family members may be able to file a claim on his or her behalf.

Our firm is prepared to help determine which option is best for your particular situation.

Call PWHD to Get the Legal Help You Need Today

PWHD has obtained significant compensation over the decades for our clients. We know what it takes to take on large companies and secure a settlement or verdict.

An initial consultation is free of charge and completely confidential. You are under no obligation after this meeting to have us represent you, but if you do, we charge no upfront fees to take a case.

Available 24/7 to take your call: 1-800-459-1881.
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