Asbestos was widely used through the early 1970s for fireproofing and insulation. It is a mineral which was incorporated into many types of common household and industrial products including but not limited to:
- Insulation for steam pipes, boilers, and furnace ducts
- Resilient floor tiles
- Vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives
- Cement sheet, millboard, and asbestos paper
- Door gaskets for furnaces and stoves
- Soundproofing and decorative wall materials
- Patching and joint compounds
- Roofing shingles and siding
- Automobile brake pads and linings, clutch facings, and gaskets
These products all commonly contain asbestos and during the installation, repair, and use of these products, asbestos fibers or dust may be released and inhaled.
The danger of asbestos
Asbestos fibers, when inhaled, can cause deadly illnesses and injuries. Before the dangers of asbestos were widely publicized and regulations imposed regarding its use, many workers spent their days working in large volumes of asbestos dust generated by their work.
As a result, they inhaled large volumes of asbestos dust which places them at risk for developing asbestos related disease. The diseases caused by asbestos exposure often take many years to develop, and include:
- Asbestosis – scarring of the lungs caused by the body’s attempt to rid itself of asbestos fibers embedded in the walls of the lungs. When the scarring becomes severe enough, the lungs stop functioning normally, causing significant pain and disability. Asbestosis takes 25 – 40 years after exposure to develop.
- Mesothelioma – this is a cancer of the lining of the lungs and of the lining of the abdominal wall. The ONLY known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma does not normally appear for 15 – 30 years after exposure.
- Lung Cancer – also can be caused by asbestos. In workers who are also smokers, the effects of smoking are greatly increased by the asbestos fibers.
Few workers exposed to asbestos survive the illnesses and injuries caused by that exposure, which has led to their families filing wrongful death cases.
Workers have developed these diseases in many heavy industrial plants, but most commonly in:
- Power plants
- Steel mills
- Paper mills
- Chemical plants
- Rail yards
If the facility had a furnace or other equipment which generated significant heat, there were usually asbestos-containing products present.
People working heavy-duty occupations such as insulators, shipyard workers, steamfitters, pipefitters, boilermakers, carpenters, automobile mechanics, chemical and utility workers, steelworkers, carpenters, railway workers, and millwrights are all likely to have had some degree of occupational exposure to asbestos dust.
Responsibility of the manufacturers
Manufacturers of all products, including asbestos, have an obligation to manufacture a safe product, and if the product cannot be made safe, then they have a legal obligation to warn the product users of its dangers.
The evidence that has been developed to date shows that starting near the beginning of the last century (1900) and up through the 1970s:
- Manufacturers of asbestos products knew asbestos dust was causing workers serious illnesses
- They decided to conceal the dangers by not issuing warnings, and
- They actively deceived workers as to the dangers
This misconduct of the manufacturers of asbestos products makes them liable for the injuries and death their products caused. Where railway workers suffer injuries as a result of asbestos exposure, their employer will be liable under F.E.L.A. for failing to provide them with a safe place to work.
Legal help is crucial for you
As much, if not more than in any other field of law, the assistance of a well-qualified attorney is crucial to protecting the rights of victims of asbestos exposure.
- Many companies that manufactured asbestos products have been driven into bankruptcy, and legal assistance is badly needed for navigating the complexities of corporate bankruptcy.
- Experienced asbestos attorneys have compiled a great deal of information as to:
- What asbestos products were in use
- At what work sites
- When, and
- The identities of persons with knowledge of how the products were used
The rights of victims can be properly protected only by a well-qualified attorney.