Steelworkers and Asbestos Exposure

Occupational Asbestos Exposure for Steelworkers

For much of the 20th century, metalworking facilities, including steel mills and foundries, used asbestos as a cost-effective barrier and insulator thanks to its reliable heat-resistant features. The extremely hot areas of metalworking facilities were frequently filled with asbestos, likely exposing countless workers to the hazardous material and putting their health and safety at risk.

At SWMW Law, our award-winning trial team has fought on behalf of countless steelworkers diagnosed with life-altering illnesses resulting from asbestos exposure on the job. If you or a loved one worked in the steel industry and was later diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, we want to help. 

SWMW Law proudly serves construction workers, building trades workers, and families across the country. Call (855) 744-1922 or contact us online for a FREE consultation.

How Steelworkers Were Exposed to Asbestos

There are several ways in which steelworkers may have been exposed to asbestos, as the mineral was pervasively used throughout steel mills and foundries, including in the metalworking and manufacturing processes; the construction of the facilities themselves; and the machinery and equipment throughout.

For example, workers relined open hearth furnaces and ovens with asbestos firebrick and insulating “muds”; they removed and replaced “hot tops” on ingots and molds; they removed and replaced thermal insulation, gaskets, and packing on piping systems, pumps, valves, and fittings; and they replaced brakes and friction materials on cranes and overhead equipment used to move molds and kettles.

Asbestos was considered necessary in metalworking facilities due to their high-heat environments. Construction products utilized in the building of these facilities often featured asbestos, which was present in fireproofing sprays and cement; insulated boards, as well as wall and ceiling tiles; and other thermal insulation and fire-retardant materials. Asbestos was also employed to fortify metalworking and refining tools as well. Even worse, equipment designed to protect employees from high-heat conditions frequently contained asbestos fibers. 

Tragically, most steelworkers were never made aware of the dangers of asbestos or the long-term health consequences of exposure. Many spent their entire careers performing work in, and around, buildings that put their health and livelihoods at risk. 

Sources of Asbestos Exposure for Steelworkers

Steelworkers both past and present faced risk of asbestos exposure through a variety of asbestos-containing products and materials. A partial list of asbestos-containing products reveals how widespread asbestos use and exposure has been for steelworkers.

  • Thermal Pipe & Block Insulation
  • Refractory Cement
  • Firebrick
  • Hot Tops
  • Cranes
  • Ovens & Heat-Treating Equipment
  • Pumps
  • Valves
  • Boilers
  • Molds
  • Insulated Vessels, Kettles & Tanks
  • Soaking Pits
  • Fireproofing Sprays
  • Insulated Boards
  • Ingots
  • Protective Aprons, Gloves & Blankets
  • Open Hearth Furnaces

At highest risk for first-hand asbestos exposure are those who worked directly with or alongside asbestos-containing materials; however, we know today that there is no safe amount of asbestos exposure. Even the smallest amount of exposure increases the chances of developing asbestos-related diseases. 

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

Various studies and epidemiological reviews conducted over the years have confirmed metalworkers, including those who worked in steel mills, foundries, and other settings, face increased risks of developing mesothelioma and other chronic health conditions due to exposure to asbestos.

Some examples include:

  • A 2015 study published in the British Medical Journal that reviewed asbestos-related deaths in Belgian workers from 2001-2009 found that workers in the metal manufacturing industry had a significantly higher rate of mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis mortality than the general population, including a nearly three times greater risk of dying from mesothelioma.  
  • A 2010 study of the Italian steel industry found signs of significant asbestos exposure among steelworkers, particularly those involved in maintenance and production. Lung tissue samples from eight subjects who worked in steel mills and the production of electrical steel pipes revealed between 260,000 and 11 million asbestos fibers per gram of dry tissue. 
  • A study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that women in homes with husbands or fathers who worked in the steel industry faced higher risks of developing mesothelioma than the general population. The study built on decades of research into the dangers of take-home exposure among workers in high-risk occupations. 
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Compensation and Justice for Steelworkers Exposed to Asbestos

Companies have known about the dangers and toxicity of asbestos since the 1930s, and yet they continued to manufacture and distribute hazardous asbestos-containing products, or they failed to appropriately notify people of the risks. 

Holding asbestos companies and their insurers responsible for their negligence and harm can be accomplished with the advocacy of responsible, experienced, and dedicated asbestos lawyers like those with SWMW Law.

If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, or another asbestos-related disease after working as a steelworker, you may have options to seek 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

At SWMW Law, our legal team has extensive experience representing steelworkers in legal actions that seek compensation for occupational asbestos exposure. This includes claims seeking compensation from asbestos bankruptcy trusts established by companies that reorganized or went out of business, as well as civil lawsuits against solvent companies that used asbestos and negligently endangered workers.

Because every case is different, the best way to evaluate your available options and the potential value of your case is to have it reviewed personally by an attorney from our firm.

Learn more about your rights and legal options.

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

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

SWMW Law is a nationally recognized plaintiffs firm known for litigating mesothelioma and asbestos exposure cases on behalf of victims nationwide. Comprised of award-winning attorneys, we have extensive experience representing victims who were diagnosed with devastating health conditions after working in at-risk occupations, like steelworkers, and have recovered over $750 million in compensation for our clients.

If you have questions about your legal options and how we may be able to help you pursue a claim for compensation, call (855) 744-1922 or contact us online.

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