Ironworkers and Mesothelioma

Until the late 1990s, Ironworkers and mesothelioma went hand in hand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nearly 100,000 people currently hold jobs as ironworkers involved in erecting, retrofitting, or demolishing structures and infrastructure.

Materials used by ironworkers include structural steel, reinforcing iron, and precast concrete. Before the 1980s, certain materials were coated with asbestos to withstand intense high heat. Unfortunately, it did from time to time happen that tiny particles of the asbestos composited into or applied over structural steel, reinforcing iron, and precast concrete managed to enter the air, where they were inhaled or ingested by unsuspecting ironworkers.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are an iron worker- you might have a case. Contact one of our lawyers by filing a claim today.

Ironworkers Materials After the Late 1990s

Ironworkers employed in the trade from the 1990s through today no longer handle asbestos products in the ordinary course of their jobs. Makers of structural steel stopped adding asbestos in the 1970s, and supplies of construction products containing asbestos were used up within a decade after that. Even so, ironworkers can come into contact with asbestos if they help retrofit or demolish structures and infrastructure erected before the 1990s.

Asbestos exposure can set the stage for the onset of mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases 10 to 50 years down the road.

Don't Face Your Ironworker Mesothelioma Claim Alone

The good news is that mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases can be fought. What's more, ironworkers locked in that battle need not wage the fight alone. Mesothelioma lawyers are dedicated to seeking compensation for asbestos-injured ironworkers.

Who Qualifies as an Ironworker?

An ironworker is anyone who is or was engaged in the erecting, retrofitting, or demolishing of buildings and infrastructure constructed with structural steel, reinforcing iron, and decorative/architectural steel and iron.

Tasks typically performed by ironworkers include:

Ironworkers and Asbestos Exposure From Structural Steel

Asbestos was added to structural steel to make rafters, beams, and other metal members lighter, stronger, and fireproof (or at least flame retardant). Rafters and beams are cast from pig-iron ore heated to molten in a gigantic furnace. Impurities are removed by blowing oxygen-rich air over the molten mass (the techniques for doing this are now highly advanced compared to the way it was done by its British inventor, Henry Bessemer, in the 1800s). Back in the 1940s and into the 1970s, asbestos was often mixed into refined molten steel to improve the performance and aesthetic characteristics of the finished product.

Asbestos composited into the pig iron (or applied afterward as a coating) posed a serious health problem for ironworkers. The trouble began when finished steel goods were cut, drilled, riveted, hammered, or worked on at the job site.

The finished steel goods were safe for workers to use and be around.

Asbestos Risks for Ironworkers with Structured Steel

Ironworkers might walk into these dust clouds and inhale or ingest the fibers, often without even knowing. The risk of being exposed to asbestos was small if the ironworkers were working in an open area because the wind would handle the asbestos if work were done 500 feet in the sky on a high rise.

However, suppose the ironworker was working in an enclosed area with no wind or ventilation. In that case, the asbestos fibers could get into the air and stay there until they are ingested and inhaled, which is almost impossible to avoid in a small space.

The fibers will then slide down into the lungs and abdomen and begin to cause problems for the healthy cells inside the body. Often this leads to cancer and other issues, but they aren't found until decades later because the process is so slow.

Ironworkers and Asbestos Exposure From Fireproof Insulation

Ironworkers and Mesothelioma

Fireproof insulation was applied over structural steel so that, in the event of an intense blaze after project completion (or even during construction), the rafters and beams holding the place up wouldn't melt before firefighters could quell the flames.

In the eyes of many, asbestos was the ideal insulator. The mineral was plentiful and cheap. It was also very effective at preventing structural steel during a fire from reaching a temperature high enough to permit weakening and eventual structural collapse.

There were two main ways to fireproof structural steel.

  1. Spray on an asbestos-laced insulating material.
  2. Brush on a coat of specialized paint that contained asbestos.

The paints were known as intumescent coatings. One advantage of intumescent layers was they created more distance between the flames and the steel. As a result, the paint would react to the rising heat in the event of a fire. The hotter things became, the bigger the reaction. The manifestation of the response was a swelling of the paint. The bump was considerable—upward of 10,000 percent of the paint's original applied thickness.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are an iron worker- you might have a case. Contact one of our lawyers by filing a claim today. 

Rigid-Board Fireproofing

Beyond sprays and paints, there also was rigid-board fireproofing—favored in applications where blocking noise and increasing the energy efficiency of interior climate- systems were desired.
Still, another steel fireproofing method entailed wrapping structural steel members in an asbestos blanket. The concept was similar to that of intumescent coatings. That is, the blankets created a thick buffer separating steel from fire.

Asbestos-containing Concrete

There was also the choice of asbestos-containing concrete. In this fireproofing method, concrete was poured all around the structural steel. This required creating forms into which the concrete could be run.

Still, by whatever means the asbestos was added or applied, it posed a health risk for ironworkers. That was because asbestos fireproof materials could be chipped or in some way marred in the course of onsite installation. That would be sufficient to expel particles of asbestos into the air.

The same would occur asbestos-protected steel to be cut, drilled, riveted, hammered, filed, sanded, polished, or jostled.

Asbestos In the Air

Asbestos released into the air puts ironworkers at risk. The risk arose from tiny particles of asbestos lodged in the lungs due to inhalation. Alternatively, asbestos particles might become trapped in the intestines due to ingestion.

By whatever means this lodging occurred, the consequences of it could be severe. It is widely recognized in the medical field that inhaled or ingested asbestos can cause healthy cells to undergo a transformation that ends with them becoming cancerous. Mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer are the two cancers most associated with asbestos exposure.

Ironworkers and Asbestos Exposure from Reinforcing Iron

Rodbuster ironworkers specialize in installing reinforcing iron for foundations, building exteriors, roads, bridges, and more. Cement pours are a prominent feature of the job for rodbusters. Decades ago, the cement they used likely contained asbestos to improve performance.

That was one way by which rodbusters could come into contact with asbestos. Another was by welding rebar—the welding rods they used 40 years ago contained asbestos.
Any construction material or piece of equipment containing asbestos was a potential hazard to ironworkers like these from the 1940s onward.

When asbestos is disturbed, the fibers can break free and rise into the air. Then they can be inhaled or ingested by ironworkers and will get inside the body. Due to their shape, the body can't quickly get rid of them, and they will begin to corrupt the cells around the lungs, stomach, and heart. This will eventually cause mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are an iron worker- you might have a case. Contact one of our lawyers by filing a claim today. 

Ironworkers and Asbestos Exposure From Working Alongside Other Trades

Even if the steel contained no asbestos, the carcinogenic mineral was often a part of contemporary work performed by other trades. For example, electrical systems were usually packed with asbestos, and it was not uncommon for electricians to follow close on the heels of ironworkers. As one section of a project's skeleton was being installed, electricians might be sequencing in a nearby corner of the site.

If a project were tightly sequenced, it could mean ironworkers would find themselves sharing site space with not just electricians but also plumbers, bricklayers, painters, and others. Between 1940 and 1990, all of those other trades—and more—used construction materials, equipment, and tools containing asbestos.

So ironworkers might find themselves working near welders welding welds made with asbestos or working with electricians installing wiring just a few yards away. This proximity meant that the asbestos each group was releasing was all mixing, or an ironworker could be breathing in asbestos from another job that happened days ago.

Ironworkers and Asbestos Exposure from Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Ironworkers between 1940 and 1990 wore gloves and other pieces of clothing that contained asbestos.

While the gloves were designed to be, and were, very durable in the face of all the ironworkers put them through, eventually, they had to break down. When they got a rip or a tear, the asbestos inside the gloves would be released, inhaled, or ingested by the ironworker.

Ironworkers' Rights to Compensation After Asbestos Exposure

Exposure to asbestos and then developing mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer, asbestosis, or another asbestos-related disease can be a real shocker and derail your entire life. While you can fight against these diseases, you might wonder where the money will come from.

Money to compensate you for the costs of treatment lost wages, and other damages may be available if you bring a lawsuit against the companies that exposed you in the first place. Most cases will want to settle out of court, which can get you a generous settlement offer.

There is also a unique system to compensate ironworkers when the target of a potential lawsuit can't be taken to court because that would-be defendant filed for bankruptcy protection. These 'Asbestos Trusts' are designed to get you the compensation you deserve if you can forge a link between your asbestos exposure and the company. You can do this with others; contact our office today.

Other Industries with a Higher Risk of Cancer Diagnosis

Copyright © 2024
Privacy - Terms Conditions