Asbestos is a durable natural mineral that is able to withstand heat, chemicals, fire and electricity. Due to its resilience and durability, asbestos has been used in thousands of products and applications in hundreds of different industries. Along with the construction and mining industries, the shipyard industry has regularly and, at times, negligently exposed workers to toxic asbestos fibers and dust.

Types of Asbestos Exposure in Shipyards

While shipyard workers are, for the most part, no longer directly exposed to asbestos (direct exposure meaning handling bundles of asbestos fibers), many are still, nonetheless, exposed to asbestos on a regular basis. Some of the common means by which asbestos exposure occurs in shipyards include through contact with:

  • boilers
  • certain types of ropes
  • certain types of spray coatings
  • certain textiles
  • incinerators
  • insulation
  • fireproofed clothes, blankets and equipment
  • pipes
  • roofing materials
  • sealants
  • water tanks

Along with the various tools and equipment that expose shipyard workers to asbestos, the environment in which these people work – the poorly ventilated, smaller, cramped areas of ships – tends to maximize asbestos exposure, causing these workers to develop mesothelioma and related asbestos conditions at a significantly higher rate than the average worker.

In fact, a 1980 study conducted at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that over 85 percent of shipyard workers with at least 20 years of experience in the industry eventually developed some type of asbestos-related health problem.

Asbestos Cancers and Related Health Problems

With such a heightened risk of serious health problems, shipyard workers should be aware of the dangers they face through their regular asbestos exposure. Some of the health problems related to asbestos exposure include:

  • asbestos lung cancer (also referred to as mesothelioma)
  • asbestosis, a non-cancerous, incurable condition that causes unrelenting symptoms, similar to those of asthma
  • colon cancer
  • kidney cancer
  • larynx cancer
  • lung cancer
  • stomach cancer
  • throat cancer

Keep in mind that whether a shipyard worker develops one of the above conditions will depend on the level and nature of the asbestos exposure, along with the worker’s current state of health and genetic predispositions.

Asbestos Regulations and Safety Guidelines

Although prolonged asbestos exposure can cause anyone to develop potentially fatal health problems, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), have developed a number of legally binding safety regulations intended to protect workers, such as shipyard workers, who may regularly come into contact with (or handle) asbestos. Consequently, if you work in a shipyard (or another industry notorious for exposing workers to asbestos), familiarize yourself with these asbestos regulations so that you can evaluate whether you work in a safe environment. Violations of EPA and OSHA asbestos safety regulations could put your health at risk and, as a result, entitle you to monetary compensation (through an asbestos lawsuit).

Compensation for Asbestos Exposure in Shipyards

Shipyards workers who have experienced prolonged asbestos exposure due to employer negligence may have a legal claim and be entitled to compensation. If you or someone you love has worked in the shipyard industry for a significant amount of time, consult our personal injury lawyers who specializes in asbestos lawsuits.

Contact us to learn more about your legal rights today.

Published November 17, 2011 by