Ingersoll Rand Company History
Ingersoll Rand entered the pump business within a few years by purchasing A.S Cameron Steam Pump Works in 1909 and the J. George Leyner Engineering Works Company in 1913. As it continued to grow and diversify, Ingersoll Rand marked several important milestones: For example, the company provided the jackhammer drills and air compressors that helped sculpt Mount Rushmore in 1925, and the world’s first atomic-powered submarine in 1954 was outfitted with the company’s boiler pump feeds and compressors.
In 2001, shareholders voted to move the company to Bermuda in order to take advantage of tax savings, a move that saved the company an estimated $40 million per year. Today, Ingersoll Rand’s scope of operations has grown considerably. Mining and construction equipment continue to make up a large part of Ingersoll Rand’s business, but the company also manufactures a wide variety of products. They include Club Car Golf Cars, Falcon Door Hardware, Hussman refrigeration units, Kryptonite Locks and Trane HVAC equipment.
Products Manufactured by Ingersoll Rand Company that Contained Asbestos
Some of the parts and materials used in Ingersoll Rand’s pumps, compressors and other products contained asbestos, one of six naturally occurring minerals known for their industrial uses. Evidence of asbestos use goes back some 4,500 years to ancient people in Scandinavia, who appear to have used the mineral to strengthen pots and eating utensils. Even back then, it seems, people had already picked up on the mineral’s most attractive qualities – its strength, resistance to heat and ability to stop the spread of fire.
The Industrial Revolution of the late 1800s made the demand for asbestos much greater. Suddenly factories were springing up everywhere, and with them, great numbers of steam- and oil-powered machinery that created a huge risk for fire and injury. Manufacturers began tapping into asbestos mines and using the mineral in everything from insulation to homebuilding supplies to fire-protective clothing.
As years went by, it became clear that exposure to the mineral was making people sick. When asbestos products begin to age and break down, they release microscopic asbestos fibers into the air. When these particles are inhaled, they can affect a person’s lung tissue and cause devastating pulmonary diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis.
While Ingersoll Rand Company did not necessarily manufacture asbestos products, the company did use asbestos-containing parts purchased from suppliers, such as gaskets and packing, in their pumps, compressors and other products. The company used braided asbestos to pack valves into boxes, fibrous piston packing for steam pumps, sheet packing for air compressors, and graphited asbestos to pack centrifugal pumps. Asbestos packing was more or less safe if it was intact, but the material very often had to be cut and shaped to fit certain applications – a process that released large amounts of hazardous asbestos fibers into the air.
Products associated with Ingersoll Rand Company that are believed to have included asbestos include, but are not limited to:
- Graphited asbestos packing material
- Braided asbestos
- Chevron packing
- Single-acting piston stuffing box
- Sheet packing
Occupations at Risk for Asbestos Exposure
People most likely to have been put at risk are those who worked for long periods of time in close contact with asbestos products, such as boilermakers, factory workers, engineers and – because many of Ingersoll Rand’s products were sold to the U.S. Navy – seamen and others who worked aboard ships, including submarines. There have also been cases of workers’ family members getting sick from asbestos brought home on a workers’ dusty work clothing. If you or someone you know were exposed to Ingersoll Rand’s asbestos-containing products, your health may have been affected.
As of April 2011, Ingersoll Rand had been named as a defendant or co-defendant in a large number of asbestos-related lawsuits by plaintiffs who claim that they or a loved one was made ill by exposure to the company’s products. As of 2008, Ingersoll Rand had reportedly settled more than 200,000 such cases totaling more than $300 million, and still had 100,000 claims outstanding. The company created a $449 million fund to cover current and future asbestos-related claims against them.