Steamfitters, known today as pipefitters, are skilled tradesmen tasked with designing, installing and repairing complex pipe systems for commercial buildings, industrial facilities, ships, and locomotives. Steamfitters worked to install these piping systems, as well as boilers and pumps, to transport waste, water, gas and steam.
Throughout the 20th century, asbestos became popular for a wide range of applications because the mineral was strong, non-conductive, resistant to heat, flame, and corrosion as well as readily available and inexpensive. It is now known that asbestos can cause mesothelioma cancer, asbestosis and other diseases, but this was not public knowledge until its use was regulated. Prior to regulation, asbestos was used in thousands of products in the construction industry. Pipe insulation and gaskets used by steamfitters were among these asbestos-containing materials putting steamfitters at risk of developing mesothelioma cancer.
Steamfitters likely handled and altered asbestos materials in under ventilated areas as they worked to design, install and repair pipefittings. They were regularly required to tear out old, damaged asbestos insulation to replace and repair piping. This activity in itself created large amounts of asbestos dust in the steamfitters work space. The installation of new asbestos insulation also created dust as steamfitters cut and sanded the insulation and altered asbestos gaskets for specific applications. When undamaged, asbestos is not a danger. It is when it is reduced to small particles, from activities like sanding and cutting, that it becomes a hazard to those around it. Asbestos dust, made up of these tiny asbestos fibers, is easily made airborne where it can be inhaled or ingested- making its way into the body. Asbestos fibers can then become lodged in organ tissue causing inflammation and scarring that may lead to mesothelioma cancer and other asbestos-related illnesses.
It is an unfortunate truth that millions of Americans have been exposed to asbestos over the years. We are only now seeing the tragic effects of asbestos exposure in the workplace. Mesothelioma generally has a long latency period, taking 10 to 60 years to develop from the time of asbestos exposure until symptoms appear.
Many of the companies have established trust funds to pay compensation to persons injured by asbestos.
If you have mesothelioma, or other asbestos-related injury, and wish to consult an attorney about your legal rights to compensation, CLICK HERE for a free consultation.