Asbestos exposure in welders

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on February 09th, 2021

Welders are just one of the 75 occupational groups that were heavily exposed to asbestos during the last century. Today, former welders are at high risk of developing terrible diseases as a consequence of workplace asbestos exposure. However, they can recover the compensation they deserve with the help of a specialized attorney.

Although welding in a rudimentary form has been around since ancient times, the practice as we know it appeared in 1881, when August De Meritens, a French electrical engineer, used arc heat to join lead plates together. Whenever you need two or multiple pieces of metal joined together, a welder comes into the picture. However, during the last century, welders were heavily exposed to asbestos on the job, as the rods they would use contained a flux coating made from asbestos. According to estimates, welding rods would contain between 5% and 15% asbestos before 1980. Since they used several rods a day, welders inhaled and ingested a tremendous amount of asbestos, as the fibers of this carcinogenic mineral would easily come off the equipment.

Furthermore, welders came in contact with asbestos when they would smooth out seams. The process of grinding metal released dust that was abundant in asbestos left behind from the welding rods. To make matters worse, the very protective equipment welders wore on the job was manufactured with asbestos fibers, as the mineral has extraordinary heat and fire resistance. Lastly, welders would also be exposed to asbestos from the environment they would perform their job in, as they would often be surrounded by other people handling asbestos products.

What industries exposed welders to asbestos during the last century?

By virtue of the heat resistance and durability it had, as well as because it was also very cheap at the time, asbestos was often used in piping and insulation in shipbuilding, construction, steel plants and other industrial settings. Consequently, welders would handle dozens of materials containing asbestos on a regular basis, including boilers, piping, welding rods and insulation. When welders were using rods, they would release friable particles of asbestos in the air through the formation of dust and smoke. Despite the fact that they would wear masks, this protective equipment was not designed to protect welders from the microscopic asbestos fibers that could be inhaled or ingested. The following industrial settings exposed welders to great amounts of asbestos during the last century:

  • shipyards
  • drydock refitting yards
  • aviation and aerospace
  • automotive assembly plants
  • construction
  • power and nuclear power plants
  • oil refineries
  • steel and aluminum
  • paper mills

Another worrisome aspect in the welding industry concerns the blankets this occupational group would use. Welding blankets were used to wrap around hot objects, such as pipes or engines. Nevertheless, they were also employed to smother fires or for fire emergencies when they were placed on welders. With repeated use, welding blankets would wear out, which led to the release of millions of toxic asbestos fibers in the air, from which welders could easily breathe in or swallow them. The majority of welders who are now victims of asbestos exposure worked in the industries above between 1930 and 1980. According to the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, welders are one of the occupational groups at high risk of developing a disease related to workplace asbestos exposure. Two of the most notorious companies that manufactured asbestos welding rods during the last century were Hobart Brothers Company and Lincoln Electric Company.

What diseases can welders develop as a result of asbestos exposure?

There are numerous diseases associated with asbestos exposure, the most serious being mesothelioma, a very aggressive cancer that usually ends up claiming the life of the sufferer. Since welders were heavily exposed to asbestos, people who worked in this field are now at great risk of developing a serious disease. It is estimated that up to 20% of industrial workers will come to struggle with a disease as a consequence of occupational asbestos exposure and welders are no exception. Therefore, if you were a welder before 1980, when the use of asbestos in the products welders would regularly handle finally ceased, you may develop one of the following diseases within 20 to 50 years of your first asbestos exposure:

Nonetheless, there are many other diseases you can develop as a result of asbestos exposure. It is important to know that, as a welder injured by occupational asbestos exposure, you have the right to recover financial compensation from the asbestos trust funds of the companies that manufactured the products you used on the job. With the assistance of a lawyer who specializes in toxic exposure cases, you are guaranteed to obtain the maximum compensation you are eligible for from the liable parties, regardless of the disease you suffer from. Thereby, if you were a welder before 1980 and came to struggle with one of the diseases above, please contact our law firm for a free of charge case evaluation.

Quality legal assistance for welders injured by occupational asbestos exposure

With over 25 years of experience in pursuing compensation on behalf of victims of asbestos exposure, our attorneys specialize in toxic exposure and are ready to provide you with the legal assistance you need if you worked as a welder before 1980 and developed a disease related to occupational asbestos exposure. Although the legal process is very complex and tedious, it will require minimal involvement on your part, as you will only have to send your attorney your employment and medical records, as we need solid evidence to support your claim. Furthermore, our legal experts will conduct research of their own to discover additional proof for your case. If you are a veteran who was a welder, we will also file a disability compensation claim with the VA so that you can benefit from the maximum compensation you deserve for your physical and emotional suffering. Eventually, you will receive the money you are entitled to if you choose to work with our skilful legal team. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will gladly answer your questions and address your concerns.