Steel Workers Exposed to Asbestos

Steel Workers Exposed to Asbestos

Steel mill workers handled a vast range of asbestos products to prevent fires and injuries from very high temperatures typical in the workplace. Asbestos was used before the public knew of its dangers. Companies used it in manufacturing because of its lightweight, economical, durable, fireproof, and insulating characteristics. Asbestos cement and coatings were used for furnaces, equipment, and machine parts to prevent damage to control heat. Construction materials had asbestos-containing products. Asbestos-containing materials were used in protective clothing to protect workers. Anyone involved in manufacturing steel products is at high risk of developing an asbestos-related health problem.

Asbestos Exposure Can Be Fatal
Asbestos exposure elevates the risk of developing severe lung disease and is made worse by smoking. If the asbestos exposure is greater, the greater the chance of developing harmful health effects. Symptoms can take years to appear, and asbestos-related conditions can be challenging to identify. Some of these conditions are:

  • Lung cancer
  • Mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer located in the thin lining of the lung chest
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma cancer in the abdomen and heart
  • Asbestosis is a severe progressive, long-term, non-cancer disease of the lungs
  • Pleural effusions

Malignant mesothelioma is associated with inhaling asbestos fibers and other elongated mineral particles. These fibers become lodged and cause inflammation and irritation leading to mesothelioma development. When diagnosed, it can be fatal in a year or less. Symptoms can take 20 and 50 years to appear and can be challenging to treat, requiring surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

During 1999–2015, malignant mesothelioma deaths increased. The continuing occurrence of malignant mesothelioma deaths in persons aged over 55 years suggests ongoing exposure to asbestos and other fibers. There are restrictions, but asbestos products are still used, and new asbestos-containing products continue to be manufactured and imported into the United States.

How are Steel Workers Exposed to Asbestos
Asbestos exposure often occurs among people who work in steel factories. Due to the extreme heat, insulation boards that contained asbestos were used on steel molds to trap impurities from being released. The heat would burn these insulation boards into ash resulting in workers having to install them very frequently during the day. Asbestos dust rose into the air when the ash was suctioned out with a hose, and workers swept the area. Steelworkers usually wore heat-resistant clothing made from asbestos cloth. Many of the machine parts were lined with or contained asbestos fibers. When these parts move, they can grind and release asbestos fibers into the air.

The amount of asbestos in the air leads to high asbestos fiber levels being inhaled into the lungs and many opportunities for exposure. Throughout steel mills, steam and pipelines were insulated with an asbestos-coating which needed to be cut down to fit individual pipes which produced asbestos dust in the air. Machine parts were also asbestos coated. People working in these steel factories were at high risk for the development of asbestos-related diseases. Many of these workers suffer from lung, liver, and heart ailments due to years of work in the steel industry.

If you were exposed to asbestos and are now suffering from lung cancer or mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation. Our injury attorneys are legal advocates for those suffering from asbestos-caused illnesses who have been blindsided by their employers and other third parties. Contact GPW Law today or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Sources:
Bailey Cara, “124 companies named in four asbestos” West Virginia Record (2008) [Link]
Ollove Michael “A neighborhood tells the dreadful sequel to steel’s glory years” The Baltimore Sun (1992) [Link]
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