Are Welders at Risk for Asbestos Exposure?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Mesothelioma & Asbestos Published on March 28, 2019 and updated on March 7, 2022.

welder performing a jobWelders work on a variety of projects – whenever pieces of metal need to be joined together, you need a welder. The problem for many welders, particularly in years past, is they were at high-risk for exposure to asbestos, which can cause severe health problems, like lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. For many years, welding rods had asbestos coatings and when they were used, asbestos fibers could get into the air and workers could breathe them in.

Welders who were exposed to asbestos may have developed serious medical conditions that can be life-threatening and expensive to treat. The skilled Virginia mesothelioma lawyers at Peter T. Nicholl Law Offices can discuss your claim with you and help you explore your legal options if you were exposed to asbestos on the job.

Industries that Needed Welders

For many years, welders worked in every type of metal fabrication industry. Welders often joined steel plates, pipes and parts.

Some of the industries that most relied on the use of welders included the following:

  • Shipyards
  • Drydock refitting yards
  • Aviation and aerospace
  • Automotive assembly plants
  • Construction
  • Power and nuclear power plants
  • Oil refineries
  • Oil pipelines
  • Steel and aluminum
  • Paper mills
  • Bridge building

How Welders Were Exposed to Asbestos

The American Journal of Industrial Medicine recognized in a study that welding is one of the highest-risk occupations for asbestos exposure.

Asbestos was often used in piping and insulation in shipbuilding, steel plants, construction and other industrial areas due to its affordability, resistance to heat and durability. Welders were often handling dozens of materials that contained asbestos fibers, including boilers, piping, welding rods and insulation.

When welders used welding rods, they emitted friable pieces of asbestos into the air through the formation of dust and smoke. Even though welders wear welding masks, these masks were not designed to protect workers from microscopic fibers that could be inhaled or ingested. After these fibers enter the body, they can become lodged in organ tissue, which can ultimately result in various forms of cancer.

Welders were often exposed to asbestos over the course of many years, which increases their risk of developing mesothelioma. A long career in welding could mean a long road to recovery after developing a serious illness associated with asbestos exposure.

Welding Blankets

Another serious concern for welders was welding blankets. Welders work in hot environments and require protective clothing to prevent burns and other workplace injuries. Many pieces of protective clothing, such as welding blankets, contained asbestos because it is resistant to fire and heat. Weaving asbestos into the textile made this protective clothing fire-resistant.

Welding blankets were used to wrap around hot objects, like pipes or engines. However, they were also used to smother fires or for fire emergencies when they were placed on workers. When these blankets were repeatedly used, asbestos fibers in them could easily break off and become airborne and be breathed in.

The wear and tear on protective clothing can release millions of tiny asbestos fibers into the air. Continued exposure could result in workers breathing in these fibers and developing mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure can also cause other problems, including the following:

  • Puncture of the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen
  • Development of asbestosis
  • Development of lung and kidney cancer
  • Pleural plaques

Workers who worked as welders from 1930 to 1980 may have been exposed to welding blankets that contained this dangerous material. Additionally, these workers may have had asbestos fibers on their clothing, shoes and hair that they brought home with them, which could have caused their family members to be exposed to the fibers, which could have made them suffer some of the same medical conditions as a person directly exposed to asbestos.

Contact a Qualified Lawyer for Help Building Your Claim

Welders who developed mesothelioma or other asbestos-related medical conditions after breathing in harmful substances may have a claim to seek compensation for their lost income, medical expenses and other damages. A skilled attorney from Peter T. Nicholl Law Offices can discuss your legal options, including filing a lawsuit against negligent manufacturers of asbestos products or a claim with an asbestos trust fund.

Call today to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. 410-244-7005