Asbestos was a mineral that was widely used in a variety of products from the 1940s into the 1970s. It was cheap, fire-resistant, and had insulating properties. The wide use of the material meant that there was also wide exposure to the risks it posed.
Today, many occupations with high risk for asbestos and mesothelioma have surfaced as the cause of illness and death in a great number of workers who were exposed during those decades. Contact a South Carolina asbestos and mesothelioma attorney at the Shelly Leeke Law Firm today so we can help you navigate the complicated legal process.
Asbestos is a mineral. It was once widely used because it was heat retardant and had insulating properties. It can be found in various forms, such as chrysotile, amosite, tremolite, actinolite, crocidolite, and anthophyllite. Asbestos has very small fibers that can be inhaled into the body and can embed themselves into the lungs or organs of the person who inhaled them.
Inhaling asbestos can lead to asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. It is a dangerous mineral that has caused a lot of damage to the health of workers around the world, leading it to be banned from use in most places. However, it remains in older buildings and in some older products.
Exposure with No Understanding of the Risks
Many people went to work and felt safe in doing so, only to realize years later that they were exposed to asbestos and were suffering the ill effects. It was in many places, and the risks associated with the mineral were not yet realized by those using it. When asbestos was broken, disturbed, drilled into, or otherwise disrupted, the particles entered the air.
There are some occupations that proved more common for asbestos exposure. Some of the people working in occupations that posed a greater risk of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma are still discovering that they were exposed.
Construction work is the riskiest job when it comes to asbestos exposure. The much-used mineral is used in many building materials. Some of these are listed below:
- Roofing materials
During the decades that it was popular, asbestos exposure was fairly common. Even now, when removing materials made with asbestos, there is a risk of exposure if the proper precautions are not taken.
Another at-risk group for asbestos-related ailments is those who work in shipyards. The deadly mineral was once used in the materials used to build ships and repair them. Later, as older ships were demolished, asbestos that had been earlier was disturbed.
It is unlikely that all protocols necessary to avoid exposure to asbestos were taken. This could leave shipyard workers vulnerable to the risk of mesothelioma.
When fires break out, firefighters run in. Putting themselves at risk of being burned alive as well as inhaling asbestos if the building they are entering was built using building materials that were asbestos based.
In a fire, though asbestos is fire resistant, there will be breakage and warping of building materials. This can disturb the asbestos inside of them, causing them to escape into the surrounding environment. Firefighters have a dangerous enough job with fires, but asbestos and the risk of mesothelioma add an additional threat.
When asbestos use was in its heyday, it was commonly used in car parts. Most commonly, it is found in engine parts, clutches, and brakes. Mechanics may have faced daily exposure.
Mechanics who worked with asbestos materials likely brought the fibers home on their clothing and, in turn, exposing their families to the dangerous mineral.
Employees Who Worked in Manufacturing
Those who worked in manufacturing jobs could have risked asbestos exposure regularly. The mineral was used in many materials, such as the following:
- Textile manufacturing
- Electrical equipment
- Vehicle parts
People who worked in manufacturing settings, whether they were directly working on an assembly line or just worked in the vicinity, are greatly at risk for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related disease.
Those who worked on railroads were particularly vulnerable to asbestos exposure. It was commonly used in the manufacturing and repair of trains, including the cabins and carriages where the general public rode as well. Particularly risky were the wallboards and the flooring since they could become worn through daily use.
The brakes on trains were often made using asbestos as well. Sealing cement and gaskets were used on pipe joints, and valves contained asbestos. Brake pads, lining, and clutches were commonly made from materials containing durable product, though with repeated use, these parts would wear and age, sometimes tearing or breaking and releasing asbestos fibers.
The heating and air-conditioning systems, plumbing, and electrical systems were all likely to contain asbestos. When repairs were made, the asbestos fibers were also released into the surrounding environment, endangering those doing the repairs or those unfortunate enough to inhale the fibers.
What to Do if You Are Exposed to Asbestos at Work
Asbestos poses too many hazards to remain in use, even though it has many benefits. Because of this, it is banned in this country and others. But, the threats that asbestos poses did not disappear because of this.
Because it was such a widely used product, it remains in older buildings and other structures. This creates a risk of exposure to employees in those settings. Listed below are some things that should happen to manage the risks associated with asbestos:
- Employers should make their employees aware of any possible areas that contain asbestos. These could be in the insulation, the flooring, or the roof.
- Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as clothing covering and respirators.
- Soaking the material with water can mean the risk of fibers floating through the air is diminished.
- Air quality should be monitored.
Reach Out for Help Today
If you or someone you love has experienced asbestos exposure at work, contact the Shelly Leeke Law Firm for assistance. Workers can develop severe ailments over time and are entitled to protection from asbestos through protective gear, knowledge, and training. We can work with you to ensure your case is treated appropriately.