Boiler workers are employed by many different industries, but they often work under similar conditions. Unfortunately for many, this includes a high risk of asbestos exposure. Numerous studies have found a higher-than-normal risk of workplace asbestos exposure for boiler workers. Despite recent safety measures that would minimize the risk, boiler workers are still in danger of inhaling asbestos fibers on the job.
Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that was used heavily in boiler work for much of the twentieth century. It is heat and flame-resistant, versatile, and readily available, making it ideal for many uses in boiler production and operation. Asbestos is an effective insulator for boilers, ducts, and pipes; an ingredient in cement mixes, joint compounds, and paraffin waxes; and a component in ropes, tape, and gaskets. Manufacturing and insulating boiler equipment with asbestos can minimize risks related to their high temperatures. Asbestos is very friable, however, and fibers easily splinter off and become airborne when it is handled.
Asbestos particles in the air can be inhaled or ingested and become lodged in the tissue around the lungs. The fibers can stay lodged in the chest for decades before developing into painful respiratory conditions, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began regulating the use of asbestos in the workplace in 1971, once the link between asbestos and the deadly disease was established, and it was gradually phased out over the following decades.
How Do Boiler Workers Encounter Asbestos?
There are two main trades associated with boiler work: boiler makers who manufacture and install boilers, and boiler operators who oversee their use and maintenance. Depending on their role, boiler workers may encounter asbestos in many different ways. Workers in a plant that manufactures and assembles boilers have to weld, cut, and join parts, which involve multiple products that contain asbestos. While installing a boiler system, they will have to cut and fit insulation. Boiler operators have to work with, clean, and repair this equipment, often in small rooms with poor ventilation. Any of these activities can kick up asbestos dust, putting workers at risk of exposure.
Although many of the uses of asbestos that put boiler workers at risk have been banned, boiler workers still face some hazards. Much of the boiler equipment that was produced before the ban on asbestos is still in use today and likely requires regular maintenance. Even retired workers or those who have changed careers may still be at risk for asbestos-related diseases because of exposure years ago. Symptoms of mesothelioma and other conditions may not appear for decades after initial exposure, so boiler workers may still be diagnosed with one of these diseases.
Philadelphia Mesothelioma Lawyers at Shein Law Advocate for Those Exposed to Asbestos
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, contact the Philadelphia mesothelioma lawyers at Shein Law. We will thoroughly review the facts of your case to determine who is at-fault for your asbestos exposure and hold them accountable. We are committed to helping construction workers and their families obtain the compensation to which they are entitled. Call us today at 877-743-4652 or contact us online for an initial consultation. With offices in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we help asbestos exposure victims throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.