Workers at Risk
Union Workers at Risk
Because asbestos was so widely used for centuries, including the first three-quarters of the 20th century, literally millions of workers have been and remain at risk for developing asbestos cancer. In the majority of cases, these workers never knew that they were putting their lives on the line by working with this "miracle" mineral, which served as an insulator and fire proofing agent for thousands of products manufactured and used worldwide.
The material was ever present in the factories of America prior to 1980 and the use of asbestos was indeed looked upon as essential for many decades. Advocates of asbestos use promoted the fact that it was "protecting" workers, not harming them, even though many company executives already knew of the dangers of the toxic material but did little or nothing to protect workers.
Some industries and occupations were more affected than others and it has been the trade unions for these industries and workers that have rallied together to support those who were unknowingly exposed to asbestos. If your Union is not on our list please send us an email. Those occupations most affected include:
For many years, brakes and clutches used in automobiles contained asbestos. The material was included in these auto parts in order to avoid fires. Mechanics who changed or repaired these parts often breathed in asbestos dust.
Boilermakers and Shipbuilders were involved with the manufacture, installation and repair of boilers. Because of their heat-producing capacity, boilers were usually insulated with asbestos, therefore exposing workers on a regular basis.
Workers in these trades were often exposed to a variety of asbestos-containing paints, compounds and adhesives.
Many of the products that carpenters used contained asbestos including wallboard, gypsum, floor tiles, shingles, paint, paper and cement.
Asbestos was used to provide insulation from the friction created in the operation of elevators putting elevator installation and repair workers at risk.
Engineers, particularly those working in shipyards, on ship, submarines and in boiler rooms were often exposed to airborne asbestos.
Being exposed to asbestos while fighting fires in old buildings, both in cities and small towns, can be a definite hazard for the nation's firefighters.
These union workers were exposed to asbestos containing products that were used to provide insulation from intense heat generated by the equipment in these work settings.
Because asbestos has historically been used as an insulator, those whose job it was to insulate pipes, electrical lines, etc. were constantly exposed to the dangerous mineral.
Iron workers were susceptible to frequent direct exposure to asbestos products. Day in and day out they would work with slate board made from asbestos as well as insulation products.
Laborers worked in a variety of settings where the use of asbestos-containing products was prevalent.
Working in and around ships and submarines subjected many of these union workers to hazardous asbestos exposure in highly concentrated quantities due to the tight quarters that they were confined to.
Those who toiled in asbestos, vermiculite, or talc mines may have been exposed to large amounts of asbestos dust on a daily basis. The rate of mesothelioma among mine workers is quite high.
Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters, the individuals who lay out, assemble, maintain and repair piping systems, worked in a number of different industries where they were exposed to asbestos. They were particularly busy in the shipyards of America prior to, during, and after World War II.
Asbestos was one of the strongest and most durable materials available for use in roofing applications and construction projects putting roofers at risk for asbestos exposure.
Sheet metal workers were very likely to have come into contact with asbestos-containing products in the course of their work in the sheet metal trade.
Due to the high levels of heat found in steel plants, asbestos was used regularly. Decades ago, steel workers even wore protective clothing made from asbestos, including aprons, gloves, and even face masks.
Trains, buses, cars and planes all contained asbestos based materials that served to provide protection from intense heat due to friction. Union workers in this industry were needlessly exposed to airborne asbestos fibers as a result.
Utility workers were exposed to asbestos containing insulation materials used to protect against extreme heat.