Automotive technology giant BorgWarner, Inc. says that it has been named in a significant number of lawsuits each year alleging injury related to exposure to asbestos in certain historical products. The lawsuits show no signs of slowing down, so the Michigan-based manufacturer has allocated $411 million for future asbestos claims.
According to a report by Crain’s Detroit Business, the company said the figure was "based on an undiscounted estimate of indemnity and defense costs that may be incurred at one of the company's subsidiaries on account of pending and potential future asbestos-related claims that may be asserted for the next 50 years."
Upon announcing the one-time asbestos-related charge, BorgWarner recorded a net loss of $293 million.
Asbestos and the Automotive Industry
Asbestos has been used for decades in the automotive industry. Although asbestos is regulated, it is still legal to use the mineral in the manufacturing of automatic transmission components, brake blocks, clutch facings, disk brake pads, drum brake linings friction materials, and gaskets. This means, exposure could occur whether a mechanic is working on an older car or a new one. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) warns that mechanics should assume that all brakes have asbestos-type shoes.
The OSHA also cautions that worn non-asbestos-type brakes cannot be readily distinguished from asbestos-type shoes. If a mechanic assumes incorrectly that a shoe is a non-asbestos type and fails to utilize brake dust control procedures, increased asbestos exposure may result.
To protect commercial and home mechanics, the OSHA has established certain mandatory safety regulations. Besides putting workers’ health at risk, companies risk fines and lawsuits for non-compliance. Go to EPA.gov to review the OSHA’s Current Best Practices for Preventing Asbestos Exposure Among Brake and Clutch Repair Workers.
If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor right away. Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, early detection could lead to better treatment options and outcomes.
BorgWarner. BorgWarner, Inc., 2018. Web. 23 Apr. 2018.
"Current Best Practices for Preventing Asbestos Exposure Among Brake and Clutch Repair Workers." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 21 Dec. 2016. Web. 23 Apr. 2018.
"U.S. Federal Bans on Asbestos." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 19 Dec. 2016. Web. 23 Apr. 2018.
Walsworth, Jack. "BorgWarner Records $411 Million Charge to Fight Asbestos Claims." Crain's Detroit Business. Crain Communications, Inc., 10 Feb. 2017. Web. 23 Apr. 2018.