Shipbuilding and shipyard maintenance were extremely popular occupations between the 1930s to the 1960s, employing over four million United States workers. These workers, however, were unaware of the high risk of asbestos exposure at shipyards. A medical study followed workers with 20 or more years of shipyard work experience and found that 86% of them suffered asbestos exposure at shipyards. 

Asbestos exposure at shipyards can lead to fatal diseases including:

  • Mesothelioma (a rare cancer that affects the protective lining surrounding the lungs)
  • Asbestosis (a respiratory disorder caused by lung tissue scarring)
  • Lung cancer
  • Esophageal, stomach, colon, and rectum cancer

Shipyard Workers & Asbestos Exposure at Shipyards

The following shipyard workers are at a high risk for asbestos exposure:

  • Shipbuilders
  • Ship crew and longshoremen
  • Shipyard maintenance workers

Shipbuilders: Shipbuilders face an increased risk of asbestos exposure at shipyards because ship construction requires direct contact with asbestos. Because the dangers of asbestos exposure were unknown until the 1970s, most shipbuilders worked in poorly ventilated shipyards without wearing any protective equipment.

Asbestos containing materials and equipment used to build ships include:

  • Concrete
  • Gaskets
  • Boilers
  • Incinerators
  • Piping
  • Fireproofing
  • Insulation

Ship Crew and Longshoremen: Ship crew members and longshoremen suffered asbestos exposure when they handled asbestos containing materials. Many even loaded and unloaded bundles of pure asbestos onto and off of ships. Until the late 1970s, asbestos exposure dangers were unknown, so no special precautions were taken to prevent asbestos exposure.

Shipyard Maintenance Workers: Asbestos exposure is extremely likely when asbestos containing materials are repaired or removed because, when manipulated, these materials release toxic asbestos fibers into the air. Most asbestos exposure at shipyards occurs when workers repair or replace asbestos containing materials including:

  • Gaskets
  • Pipes
  • Walls 
  • Floors

Asbestos Exposure at Shipyards Regulations

In 1973, after thousands of workers became ill from asbestos exposure at shipyards, the Maritime Administration (MARAD) prohibited asbestos use except in insulation cement, lagging for machinery casings, and lagging cloth. In 1978, all asbestos use was banned for government subsidized ships.

In 1993, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Hazards Administration (OSHA) placed many regulations on asbestos exposure at shipyards, including a maximum asbestos exposure limit of 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter in an eight hour workday and 1.0 fiber per cubic centimeter in a thirty minute time frame. OSHA also requires employers to provide shipyard workers with protective clothing and equipment, and to perform periodic health exams on shipyard workers.

Injured by Asbestos Exposure at Shipyards? 

Have you or a loved one been injured by asbestos exposure at a shipyard?  Contact us today as you may be entitled to compensation.

Information About Asbestos Exposure at Particular Shipyards

To learn more information about asbestos exposure at particular shipyards and drydocks throughout the United States, follow the below links:

Alabama Shipyards

Alaska Shipyards

California Shipyards

Connecticut Shipyards

Florida Shipyards

Hawaii Shipyards

Louisiana Shipyards

Maine Shipyards

Maryland Shipyards

Massachusetts Shipyards

Michigan Shipyards

Mississippi Shipyards

New Jersey Shipyards

New York Shipyards

Ohio Shipyards

Oregon Shipyards

Pennsylvania Shipyards

Rhode Island

South Carolina Shipyards

Texas Shipyards

Virginia Shipyards

Washington Shipyards

Washington DC Shipyards

Published November 17, 2011 by