Boilermakers and Asbestos Exposure

Occupational Asbestos Exposure for Boilermakers

For nearly a century, asbestos was an integral part of boilers and steam piping systems because it was inexpensive, lightweight, and heat resistant. As a result, boilermakers and workers who maintained and operated boilers were routinely exposed to asbestos in the course of their work. This exposure greatly increased their risks of developing devastating asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma.

SWMW Law is an award-winning trial practice with a reputation for fighting on behalf of boilermakers, boiler tenders, and other trades workers diagnosed with life-altering illnesses caused by occupational asbestos exposure. If you or someone you love were diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, or another asbestos-related disease, we can help explore your options for pursuing compensation. 

SWMW Law proudly serves boilermakers, industrial trades workers, and families nationwide. For a FREE consultation, call (855) 744-1922 or contact us online for a FREE consultation.

How Boilermakers Were Exposed to Asbestos

Boilermakers – along with boiler tenders, boiler operators,  and other industrial, iron, and ship workers who worked with or around boilers – were routinely exposed to asbestos on the job. That’s because this harmful mineral was used abundantly in boilers and high-temperature industrial equipment and found throughout the varied locations where boilers were most frequently used. 

For nearly a century, asbestos was the material of choice for thermal insulation and was therefore a standard part in boiler construction, from the insulation in pressure vessels and boiler fire boxes to the many pipes, gaskets, valves, door seals, turbines, and components around them. Boilermakers who fabricated and installed boilers were exposed daily to asbestos riddled throughout these parts, as would tenders, operators, and others who maintained and repaired boilers.

In addition to the asbestos contained within boilers and their essential components, boiler workers would have also been exposed to significant levels of asbestos from the locations where boilers were commonly found. This includes everything from schools, hospitals, and apartment buildings to industrial sites such as chemical and power plants, engine rooms on naval and merchant ships, factories, manufacturing facilities, and steel mills.

Boiler rooms in these environments would have contained large quantities of asbestos due to the energy they used and required, and the giant boilers within them would have demanded continual repair or replacement due to stress fractures, leaks, and corrosion caused by constant operation at high steam pressures. The often cramped and confined conditions of boiler rooms, and especially those found in basements or Naval ships and other vessels, would have also exacerbated risks of workers inhaling or ingesting dangerous asbestos fibers due to lack of ventilation and dust accumulation.  

Because asbestos-containing boilers and boiler components were so essential during the 20th century, workers in many types of professions were exposed to the hazardous mineral. This includes: 

  • Boilermakers, Tenders, Mechanics & Operators
  • Chemical Plant Workers
  • Power Plant Workers
  • Plumbers and Pipefitters
  • Railroad Workers
  • Shipyard Workers
  • Maintenance Workers
  • Factory Workers
  • Iron Workers & Steel Workers
  • Machinists & Welders
  • Insulators
  • Navy Veterans

U.S. regulators began to curtail the use of asbestos in new products in the late 20th century, but thousands of boilers and boiler rooms still exist across the country. Many of these decades-old boilers and facilities remain contaminated with asbestos insulation and asbestos-containing materials and continue to pose serious health risks to workers given their age and deterioration. 

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Sources of Asbestos Exposure for Boilermakers

The fire-resistant properties of asbestos made it the preferred medium of thermal system insulation for boilers and the insulation found in a variety of other components, equipment, and building materials used and handled by boiler workers. Some examples include:

  • Thermal Insulation 
  • Firebrick and Refractory Materials
  • Insulating Cement
  • Gaskets
  • Packing
  •  Valves
  • Pumps
  • Steam traps
  • Economizers 
  • Heat jackets 
  • Pipe and Equipment Flanges
  • Flutes

Studies Show Increased Risks of Mesothelioma, Asbestos-Related Disease Among Boilermakers

Decades of research has established a clear connection between the effects of asbestos exposure on workers in at-risk occupations, and numerous studies have found that boiler workers of all types are overrepresented in diagnoses for mesothelioma and asbestos diseases. Some examples include:

  • A 2021 study that found boilermakers had an elevated risk for developing malignant mesothelioma and asbestosis when compared to the general population. 
  • A 2005 survey which found that most of the 163,000 commercial and industrial boilers in use in America were over 30-years-old and built at a time when manufacturers used asbestos to insulate their products and machinery. The survey also noted that aging boilers posed serious health risks to thousands of boilermakers and custodial and maintenance workers who serviced them well into the 21st century. 
  • A 1998 study on lung health among boilermakers published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found support for existing evidence of increased lung cancer and asbestosis mortality among boilermakers, and that boilermakers have various other respiratory symptoms associated with their work. 
  • American Association for Justice
  • MATA
  • The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis

Compensation and Justice for Boilermakers Exposed to Asbestos

Boilermakers played an integral role in America’s rich history. They powered emergent industries, transportation, and a growing manufacturing sector at the turn of the 19th century and perfected an evolving craft that met an ever-growing need for more powerful machines through the 20th century and beyond. And while boiler workers have historically faced dangerous conditions posed by intense heat, pressure, and combustion, none were ever made aware of the dangers posed by asbestos – even though the companies that made their materials were. 

Numerous manufacturers knowingly used asbestos-containing materials in their boilers, insulation, and boiler equipment throughout the 20th century, including Weil-McLain, Burnham Corporation, Babcock & Wilcox, Crown Boiler Company, Asbestos Corporation Limited, John Crane Inc., Cleaver-Brooks, Ingersoll Rand, and Foster Wheeler, among others. Many of these companies funded asbestos trusts when reorganized under bankruptcy, and some still exist today. 

These trusts and solvent businesses can provide a potential source of compensation for boilermakers and their families following devastating diagnoses for mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases. 

At SWMW Law, we make it our mission to help asbestos victims and their loved ones in the fight for justice. This includes helping them explore options for filing asbestos bankruptcy trust claims or civil lawsuits against companies that are still in business, which can provide compensation for:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost income and future earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional injuries suffered by loved ones
  • Other economic and non-economic losses

SWMW Law has extensive experience helping boilermakers and their families in the fight for justice, as well as the resources to take on powerful corporations and insurance carriers. If you have questions about your options and whether you have a potential case, we’re available to help. 

Learn more about your rights and legal options.

Call For a FREE Consultation: (855) 744-1922

SWMW Law is a renowned plaintiffs practice with a successful track record of litigating mesothelioma and asbestos cases for workers in high-risk occupations. We know how to help victims and families level the playing field with powerful corporations and have recovered more than $750 million in compensation for our clients.

If you have questions about your legal options after being diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease after working as a boilermaker, we want to help. Call (855) 744-1922 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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