Tyler Pipe gets its name from Tyler, Texas, a once remote agricultural community where the company got its start in 1935. Founded in the midst of the Great Depression, Tyler Pipe – then known as the Tyler Iron and Foundry Company – produced cast iron soil pipes and fittings for waste removal. In 1945, Tyler changed its name to Tyler Pipe & Foundry Company and expanded its product line to include items such as staple drains and municipal castings.
In 1948, an additional plant opened in Swan, Texas, just seven miles north of Tyler, and in 1957 that new facility became the hub for Tyler’s offices. With its new headquarters in order, the company went on to experience significant growth during the 1960s. In 1963, Tyler Pipe purchased Wade, Inc., a company that sold a full line of plumbing and specialty drainage products. In 1966, Tyler hit a milestone, exceeding 10 million sales of its patented TY-SEAL gasket – a pipe-joining product that eliminated the need for molten lead joints, the standard way soil pipes had been joined for 600 years. And the growth continued: By the end of the 1970s, Tyler’s sales of the TY-SEAL had exceeded 100 million.
In 1967, Tyler changed its name to Tyler Pipe Industries, and the following year it became a subsidiary of the Tyler Corporation. The ‘80s brought an expansion into the area of couplings, as Tyler Pipe purchased a plant for No-Hub coupling production in Missouri. For a time, Tyler was also owned by Swan Transportation, a truck transportation provider based in Tyler, Texas.
Today, Tyler Pipe operates foundries in Texas and Pennsylvania and runs coupling and gasket plants in Missouri and California. Since 1995, Tyler has been owned by the pipe manufacturer McWane Inc., one of the country’s largest privately owned companies based in Birmingham, Alabama.
Soil pipe and Asbestos
For years, soil pipe was one of a long list of products made with asbestos, the name given to a group of minerals that grow naturally in the environment. Asbestos is made of fibers that are resistant to heat, fire and chemicals, are long-lasting and are inexpensive. The use of asbestos is not new; archeologists have learned that use of the mineral goes back thousands of years. But it wasn’t until the late 1800s – with the unprecedented growth of the Industrial Revolution – that its popularity skyrocketed in the industrial sector and its use truly became problematic.
Today asbestos has been classified as a carcinogen, meaning it causes cancer, and its use has been highly regulated by the federal government. We have learned a great deal about the dangers of asbestos. For example, we now know that exposure is most likely to occur when products containing asbestos are broken or disturbed, or when they begin to grow brittle and crumbly with age. When this happens, asbestos fibers are released into the air. Breathing in these tiny particles can prove deadly, as they can become trapped in a person’s lungs and cause scarring and inflammation. Years later, that exposure can cause fatal diseases like mesothelioma, a rare cancer that occurs in the lungs or abdomen whose only known cause is asbestos exposure.
Occupations at Risk for Asbestos Exposure
Because asbestos occurs in nature, virtually all people are exposed to the mineral at some point in their lives. For most people that exposure is minimal, though, and they do not suffer ill effects. Those that do experience health problems are likely to have worked closely with the substance in the workplace. Literally millions of American workers have been exposed to hazardous asbestos fibers over the past century, and asbestos-related diseases have been widely documented among the shipbuilding industry, asbestos mining, construction/demolition and other fields. In the case of Tyler Pipe, those individuals most likely to be affected are pipe layers, plumbers, as well as those who worked on constructing the pipes in Tyler’s manufacturing plants. There is further evidence that asbestos can affect a person secondhand; that is, just being exposed to asbestos dust on a loved one’s clothing at the end of the work day can be enough to cause lung damage.
Sadly, it turns out that Tyler Pipe factory workers may have been endangered in more ways than one. In recent decades Tyler Pipe has received numerous environmental and safety violations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an agency of the federal government that ensures workplace safety. Accusations against Tyler Pipe include the presence of asbestos, as well as poorly lit areas, spills and workers who consistently suffer cuts and burns on the job. Unfortunately, with little other industry in the area, many workers continue to have no choice but to continue to work at the plant, one report stated.
As of May 2011, numerous workers have accused Tyler Pipe of exposing them to hazardous asbestos in the course of their work. As one of Tyler’s previous parent companies, numerous lawsuits have also been filed against Swan Transportation. In fact, in December 2001, Swan Transportation Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, largely because of asbestos lawsuits filed against Tyler Pipe.Sources
Tyler Pipe – Company History
National Cancer Institute – Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk
“Conditions at Tyler Pipe: OSHA Inspection Report”