The image of a welder, meticulously crouched over his or her work, usually conjures sentimental pictures of hope and promise. Buildings are erected. Ships set sail. Roads traverse the country. Unfortunately for the welder, asbestos exposure is a problem.
At Kazan Law, we are dedicated to helping all individuals who struggle with potentially fatal diseases as a result of coming into contact with asbestos, which is a likely consequence of several occupations. Welders are among the workers who are most at risk, and we believe these employees deserve both gratitude and just compensation for their labor.
Welders deal with a hazardous environment
Most of the occupational hazards associated with welding have to deal with chemicals and fumes. Among these potential toxins are zinc, cadmium, beryllium, iron oxide, mercury, lead, fluoride, chlorinated hydrocarbon solvents, phosgene, carbon monoxide, ozone and nitrogen oxides, as listed by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
However, exposure to asbestos can also be problematic. Scientists from France said that this is likely to happen if welders are wearing old protective equipment, such as gloves or blankets, that were manufactured with asbestos. Furthermore, they are likely to encounter the mineral because of insulation materials at work sites, such as shipyards.
The World Health Organization estimates that 125 million people all over the globe are exposed to asbestos because of their job. This is likely to lead to an increase in the incidence of deadly diseases such as malignant mesothelioma.
‘We never wore a mask’
John Magee, a former apprentice welder who lives in the UK, is living proof of the asbestos-related dangers of the trade. Starting in 1963, he worked at James Watkinson (Engineers) for eight years. While holding this job, he frequently hammered large amounts of asbestos lagging from the pipes in boiler houses. Additionally, he performed more work in factories, coal mines and gas works.
“The work I did was always dusty and dirty because I had to knock huge amounts of asbestos lagging from the pipe work in the boiler houses with a hammer,” Magee told the Lancashire Evening Post. “The lagging was often old, and crumbled off easily, which meant it covered my clothes and hair, and I couldn’t help but breathe it in. We never wore a mask.”
Today, Magee is 66 years old and a grandfather of two – and he is living with mesothelioma. He has a lot of difficulty performing tasks around the house or shopping for himself.
His doctors tried to treat him with chemotherapy during April 2012, but his condition cannot be cured. All doctors can do now is keep an eye on his health.
In the meantime, Magee hopes to find former coworkers who may also be sick and not even know it.
Know your rights as a worker
Although public awareness of the risks associated with asbestos has improved since Magee worked as a welder, you should still be on the alert and know how to protect yourself.
OSHA has several tips:
- Know the permissible exposure limits. Over an eight-hour shift, the PEL is 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter. In the short term, that figure is 1 fiber per cubic centimeter over 30 minutes.
- Employers must conduct period monitoring if the asbestos concentration is expected to exceed the PEL.
- Employers need to create regulated zones for areas where asbestos is a hazard.
- Protective clothing and respiratory equipment must be provided by employers.
- Employees must be properly educated about asbestos if air concentrations in the workplace exceed the PEL.