Boiler Makers and Asbestos Exposure
Boilermakers and Mesothelioma
Boilermakers and boilermaker mechanics fabricate, install and repair boilers and large industrial vessels that hold liquids and gases. Boilers have long been used to generate electrical power and steam heat for buildings, ships and factories. For many decades, asbestos was a commonly used heat-resistant material used to refract heat generated around boilers. The cutting and trimming of asbestos insulation exposed a boilermaker to asbestos fibers.
Asbestos exposure is a major occupational hazard for boilermakers and boilermaker mechanics. Boilers in utilities are designed to last for decades and require maintenance and replacement of worn-out parts such as boiler tubes, heating elements, ductwork, safety and check valves and pressure gauges. Boilermakers and boilermaker mechanics may be exposed to asbestos dust during maintenance work on a boiler and the pipes and conduit connected to the boiler.
Many boilermakers are veterans who served in the military and worked in shipyards or aboard ships, making and repairing the steam boilers that were part of a ship’s power plant. Asbestos was widely used in ships in the Navy and by other branches of the military from World War II through the 1970s. Boilermakers are among the hundreds of thousands of veterans exposed to asbestos while serving the nation.
Boilermakers may have worn asbestos aprons or gloves to protect them when working with hot materials. But the asbestos-lined safety equipment could also release carcinogenic asbestos fibers as the aging fiber was repeatedly exposed to heat. A boilermaker may have brought asbestos dust home on their hair, clothing or skin and exposed family members to asbestos. Unfortunately, asbestos manufacturers were aware of or should have known of the health hazards of asbestos and did not warn workers of the health consequences of exposure to asbestos. Boilermakers and their family may remain at risk of developing mesothelioma for decades after asbestos exposure.