Asbestos in Factories – The Armley Asbestos Disaster

Asbestos in Factories – The Armley Asbestos Disaster

The job of a factory worker encompasses many responsibilities – from machine operation to line production, workers take raw materials to create new products. Asbestos containing products manufactured in factories were also frequently used in: pipe covering for steam lines and hot water lines, block insulation, cement, gaskets, packing, valves, pumps, blankets, gloves, and clothing. Factory workers could be exposed by simply walking through a manufacturing area, having an office near the products, or interacting with a worker who had asbestos on his/her clothing.


Armley Asbestos Disaster

After decades of specializing in the manufacturing of asbestos insulation for mattresses and steam locomotive boilers, the JW Roberts, Ltd factory in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England merged with and became a part of Turner & Newell Ltd (T&N) in 1920. At that point, JW Roberts was one of two factories to process s the most dangerous type of asbestos – crocidolite asbestos, or blue asbestos.  The company then became known for its product “Sprayed Limpet Asbestos,” which was used for insulation and fire-proofing.

The factory emitted asbestos fibers consistently on a daily basis, covering and contaminating the 1,000 homes, parks, playgrounds, and streets in the Armley Lodge Area.  Dust would settle on window sills, while children would make “snowballs” and draw hopscotch squares in the dust that surrounded their community. Factory doors were often left open in the summer to cool, and its street ventilation outlets provided warmth in the winter.

Concerns about the excessive exposure in the factory itself date back to 1898, when a factory inspector reported premature deaths among asbestos workers. A 1927 study focused on workers developing asbestosis after hand-beating mattresses daily, finding many were suffering after just 5 years of exposure. In the years that followed, reports came out that T&N was “badly contaminated,” as asbestos dust covered nearly every inch of the factory; the basement, roof, ventilation shafts, and underneath the floors. While T&N did make an attempt to clean their factory, nothing was done about homes, buildings, fields, and streets that surrounded the area.

It is estimated that over 300 former employees died from mesothelioma or other asbestos-related conditions and between 1971 and 1987, 180 residents whose only exposure was secondhand, died from mesothelioma alone. After numerous lawsuits, T&N accepted liability, admitting they knew the dangers of asbestos but continued to ignore the issue, placing profits above workers’ health. T&N eventually filed for bankruptcy.

Even though the factory closed in 1959, there are many still suffering from the effects of asbestos exposure, as the latency period between exposure and symptoms can be anywhere from 20 to 50 years.


Asbestos Still Found In Factories Today

Factories today are a much safer place to work, but asbestos can still be found throughout the workplace, risking the lives of workers and their families. Due to the friction that could cause a factory fire, asbestos was used in conveyor belts, grinding wheels, transportation belts, and belt drives. Over time those belts can break down, causing asbestos fibers to become airborne. Machine equipment that began replacing humans for factory work often contained asbestos insulation. If those machines broke down, then asbestos fibers would be released into the air.

If you are suffering from mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related disease, it is important that you contact the attorneys at Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C., as time can limit your rights and have an effect on how much compensation you can receive for your injuries. For over 30 years, we have fought for the rights of hardworking factory workers and those of their families. Contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation.



Armley – UK’s Deadliest District (July 14, 2017) [Link]


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