Steel mills, steelworks, and other steel manufacturing plants are critical for the creation of products and materials used around the world. Unfortunately, working in a steel mill could expose workers to asbestos – a dangerous group of silicate minerals that are connected to multiple types of cancer, including mesothelioma.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another disease related to asbestos exposure as a current or former steel mill worker, contact Bailey & Glasser, LLP. Our law firm offers free case consultations.
The Dangers of Occupational Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos is a group of six minerals that were widely used for manufacturing purposes – including steel production – in the 1800s and 1900s before they became recognized as cancer-causing. In 1987, the International Agency for Research on Cancer published an article confirming all six types of asbestos as carcinogenic. Until the 1980s, however, asbestos was used regularly in steel mills for its ability to resist heat and corrosion.
Examples of products found in steel mills that often contain asbestos are:
- Steel mill building materials – floor tiles, ceiling tiles, liners, cement, and many other construction materials.
- Machinery and equipment – brake pads, gaskets, clutches and other heat-generating parts.
- Insulation – pipe liners, boiler and furnace insulation, wall insulation, etc.
- Protective clothing – gear worn by steel mill workers to protect them from heat, such as gloves, aprons and clothing.
Asbestos was commonly used in products that needed to be heat or fire-resistant in steel mills. If any asbestos-containing material was damaged or disturbed, the asbestos fibers could easily enter the air and affect any worker in the mill. According to the National Cancer Institute, while even one instance of asbestos exposure could cause cancer, the health risks increase the more a person is exposed, such as daily exposure in one’s occupation.
What Illnesses Are Connected to Asbestos?
Asbestos can cause serious health problems if it is inhaled or ingested. Microscopic asbestos fibers can become lodged inside the body – especially in the protective outer membrane that surrounds many of the organs (the mesothelium). Asbestos fibers can remain lodged in the body for many years, causing irritation, inflammation and a buildup of scar tissue. Eventually, this can result in the development of cancer cells, tumors and other health problems. The latency period, or amount of time from the date of asbestos exposure and related health problems, is an average of 20-60+ years.
Cancers and diseases related to asbestos exposure include:
- Chronic bronchitis
- Esophageal cancer
- Lung cancer
- Other types of cancers
- Pleural effusion
- Pleural plaques
- Pleural thickening
- Pulmonary fibrosis
Lawsuits pertaining to occupational exposure to asbestos in steel mills often involve mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that is caused by asbestos. According to data collected from 1999 to 2018 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 3,127 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the United States each year. Sadly, there is no known cure for mesothelioma.
How Can Steel Mill Workers Be Exposed to Asbestos?
The use of asbestos in consumer goods and building materials became regulated in the U.S. in the 1980s, after the Environmental Protection Agency issued its Final Rule on Asbestos. However, by this time, millions of buildings and structures had already been constructed using asbestos materials. This includes many steel mill operations.
Rather than spending the money to remove asbestos from these buildings, owners typically leave asbestos in place. It then becomes the property owner’s responsibility to take proper steps to protect anyone who enters the property from potential exposure to asbestos, such as during renovation projects that could send asbestos dust into the air. If the building is used as a place of employment, such as a steel mill, it is the employer’s duty to protect workers from asbestos exposure.
The risk of exposure to asbestos still exists in steel mills today. Entities such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have laws in place regarding how to protect employees from potential exposure. If steel mill workers must deal with materials that contain dangerous levels of asbestos, the company must provide proper protective equipment, such as respirators with HEPA filters. Unfortunately, not all steel mills and manufacturing companies meet their duties of care to workers.
What Are the Rights of Steel Mill Workers Who Have Been Exposed to Asbestos?
Lawsuits have been brought against steel mills across the U.S. for negligently exposing their workers to asbestos. Notable steel mills that used asbestos in their steel molds, piping and other products include Bethlehem Steel Corporation, U.S. Steel Corp, Bohler Steel, Tri Star Metals, National Steel, Sheffield Steel Corp and Gulf States Steel Company. If you were exposed to asbestos while working in a steel mill, you may be eligible for financial compensation.
Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related lawsuits can be brought against companies and steel corporations on the basis of negligence. Negligence is the failure to use reasonable or ordinary care, resulting in harm to others. A personal injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit could be filed using this legal doctrine. Another option may be a workers’ compensation claim, which is a type of insurance claim that does not require a worker to prove negligence.
If your asbestos attorney traces your exposure incident back to when you worked at a steel mill that has since gone out of business or declared bankruptcy, you may still be eligible for compensation. Many companies have set up asbestos trust funds to pay victims of asbestos exposure despite declaring bankruptcy. Discuss your legal options and potential opportunities for financial reimbursement with a lawyer from Bailey & Glasser, LLP to learn more.
Contact an Asbestos Attorney Today
If you or a loved one is a steel mill worker who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer or another disease connected to asbestos exposure, it is in your best interest to hire an asbestos attorney to handle your claim. These are complex areas of litigation that should only be handled by a licensed and experienced qualified professional.
The attorneys at Bailey & Glasser, LLP have been trusted with asbestos and mesothelioma cases across the country for many years. We have obtained over $90 million in settlements and verdicts for past clients. Find out how we can help you during a free case consultation. Contact us online or call (866) 871-7971 to schedule your case review.