Pipefitters & Plumbers

Plumbers & Pipefitters and Asbestos Exposure

Occupational Asbestos Exposure for Plumbers & Pipefitters

For nearly a century, asbestos was the material of choice for insulation and building materials in homes, commercial buildings, and industrial settings. Plumbers and pipefitters worked in all of these industries during years of peak asbestos use, as well as those who worked in older structures long after, routinely handled and encountered asbestos-containing materials that greatly increased their risks of developing asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma and lung cancer.

At SWMW Law, our attorneys have leveraged over a century of collective experience to help plumbers, pipefitters, and other victims of asbestos exposure in the fight for justice. If you or someone you loved developed mesothelioma or another chronic health condition after working as a plumber, pipefitter, pipelayer, or steamfitter, we can help explore how you may be able to pursue compensation.  

SWMW Law proudly serves plumbers, pipefitters, and other building trades workers nationwide. Call (855) 744-1922 or contact us online for a FREE consultation.

How Plumbers & Pipefitters Were Exposed to Asbestos

Plumbers and pipefitters have long been recognized as having an elevated risk for asbestos exposure. 

Like other at-risk occupations, plumbers and pipefitters were routinely exposed to asbestos found in the products and equipment they used to install, repair, and replace pipes and plumbing systems, as well as the various building materials found in the industrial facilities, , commercial buildings, and residential jobsites where they worked. 

Because asbestos was used heavily in construction for decades, it is present in nearly every industrial, commercial, governmental, and residential structure built before 1980. It was especially common in thermal insulation, construction materials, and mechanical and industrial equipment.  It could be found in and on almost everything, including products there were critical to the jobs performed by plumbers and pipefitters, including steam pipes, chemical pipes, fittings, flanges, gaskets, packing, and caulk.  Plumbers and pipefitters with and around insulation materials that lined and and covered pipes, boilers, ducts, and industrial tanks, for example. Plumbers and pipefitters also worked around other trades who worked with asbestos construction and building materials that contained as asbestos, such as siding, drywall, paint, flooring tiles, ceiling tiles and roofing felts and shingles., Plumbers and pipefitters who performed all types of tasks were exposed to asbestos found in these materials daily.

In addition to asbestos-laden pipe and plumbing products, the jobsites where plumbers and pipefitters worked were also major sources of asbestos exposure. 

Both plumbers, who install and repair pipes and other utility fixtures in building plumbing systems, along with pipefitters, who handle the installation and repair of piping systems designed for high-pressure and/or dangerous substances such as chemicals, acids, gasses, or steam, routinely found themselves cutting into, removing, or otherwise disturbing other aspects of a jobsite to perform their work. This disturbance greatly increased risks of sending harmful asbestos fibers into the air where they could be inhaled or ingested by workers.

Some examples of the duties and tasks routinely performed by plumbers and pipefitters that would have exposed them to asbestos include:

  • Cutting, manipulating, and installing thermal pipe and block insulation
  • Scraping and removing worn, brittle gasket and packing material from pipe flanges
  • Cutting and installing replacement gaskets and packing
  • Applying caulks, sealants, and adhesives to prevent leaks
  • Working in confined spaces, such as basements, attics, and insulated crawl spaces
  • Removing insulated equipment, such as boilers, furnaces, ducts, and HVAC 

While asbestos exposure was an ever-present risk for plumbers and pipefitters, some duties performed by these workers were more dangerous than others. This includes working directly with asbestos insulation, which was often a necessity for plumbers installing or moving pipes and plumbing fixtures in existing homes and buildings. In fact, the handling and removal of pipe insulation when servicing plumbing systems presented a major risk to workers, especially if they were also required to remove, cut, or install gaskets, valves, and other asbestos-containing components that broke, corroded, or degraded. 

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Sources of Asbestos Exposure for Plumbers & Pipefitters

If you worked as a plumber or pipefitter, exposure also likely occurred any time you performed repairs in industrial plants, commercial buildings, and residences, other facilities where asbestos was present in a myriad of products. 

Some examples of asbestos-containing products used or handled by plumbers and pipefitters include:

  • Thermal pipe insulation
  • Insulating cement 
  • Gaskets and packing Chemical pipe, fittings, and sealants
  • Pumps
  • Valves
  • Pipe fittings and flanges
  • Boilers
  • HVAC equipment 
  • Caulk and adhesives

Unfortunately, plumbers and pipefitters who worked during years of peak asbestos use, as well as many who worked in the years following the government’s increased regulation of the mineral, never knew about the sources of asbestos exposure in their day-to-day work, nor about the health risks of exposure. However, many manufacturers of asbestos-containing products did.

As we’ve learned about the dangers of asbestos exposure and the fact that no amount of exposure is safe, we have also learned about the alarming practices of asbestos companies that prioritized profits over people when they continued to produce products with asbestos and withhold information about their risks. These companies endangered countless workers, like plumbers and pipefitters, and have faced years of litigation, including civil claims filed by workers and families and bankruptcy proceedings in which they were required to fund asbestos trusts to compensate victims harmed by their products when going out of business or restructuring their debts. 

Today, claims against these companies or the asbestos bankruptcy trusts they funded provide workers with opportunities to secure justice and meaningful recoveries of their losses.

  • American Association for Justice
  • MATA
  • The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis

Studies Link Work as a Plumber, Pipefitter to Increased Mesothelioma Risks

Ample research into the dangers of asbestos has been performed over the years. Today, this research tells us exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma and there is no level of exposure to asbestos that is safe.

Studies and epidemiological reviews also show us some professions, including work as a plumber or pipefitter, are correlated with an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases. Some examples include:

  • A 2017 study found plumbers, pipelayers, pipefitters, and steamfitters had the highest number of recorded deaths from malignant mesothelioma of any other occupation group studied between 1999-2015. The data, made available by the CDC, confirmed previous studies’ findings that plumbers and pipefitters have an increased likelihood of dying from mesothelioma compared to the general public.
  • A 1985 study published in the Journal of Occupational Medicine found thickening of the pleural space (a symptom of pleural mesothelioma) in nearly 20% of its 153 participants, all of whom worked as plumbers or pipefitters in construction. This is much higher than the incidence of pleural thickening in the general population.


Compensation for Plumbers & Pipefitters Exposed to Asbestos

Plumbers, pipefitters, and their families have options when it comes to seeking justice and compensation for losses caused by their exposure to asbestos. This includes:

  1. Claims filed with asbestos trusts funded by asbestos companies that went out of business or reorganized under U.S. bankruptcy law.
  2. Civil lawsuits filed against solvent asbestos companies and other liable entities that bear responsibility for a worker’s asbestos exposure and resulting damages.

At SWMW Law, our attorneys have handled complex mesothelioma and asbestos exposure cases in courts across the United States. We are driven to hold companies accountable for the pain and suffering they have caused plumbers, pipefitters, and their families and provide the resources and firepower real people need to fight back against powerful companies.

If you have questions about your ability to recover compensation for asbestos-related losses through an asbestos bankruptcy trust claim, personal injury claim, or wrongful death action, we’re here to help.

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

SWMW Law is a renowned plaintiffs trial firm known for helping plumbers, pipefitters, and other workers who’ve suffered harm due to occupational asbestos exposure.

Comprised of award-winning attorneys, we have recovered more than $750 million in compensation for clients, including millions for workers diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other diseases caused by asbestos exposure. Our attorneys know how to help victims and families navigate the various legal channels of seeking justice, and how to maximize compensation.

If you’re a former plumber or pipefitter, or a family member of one, we can help you take the next steps in your legal journey. We serve clients nationwide and offer FREE consultations. Call (855) 744-1922 or contact us online today.

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