What’s a boilermaker? Ask the average person that question and they’ll probably reply with an answer that has something to do with the football team at Purdue University, dubbed The Boilermakers way back in the 19th century due to their burly physiques and tough nature.
But the real answer has nothing to do with competitive sports but plenty to do with hard-working, tough (mostly) men who’ve toiled in the nation’s factories and plants for decades, insuring that the steam and/or hot water boilers used for heating and hot water are installed and working properly.
In short, a boilermaker is anyone who works in the boiler construction or repair trade.
Boilermaker Mesothelioma is Common
According to the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, its union represents “workers throughout the United States and Canada in industrial construction, repair, and maintenance; manufacturing; shipbuilding and marine repair; railroads; mining and quarrying; cement kilns; and related industries.”
Hence, boilermakers – especially those who were employed in the past and may now be retired – work in situations that can be quite dangerous. Burn accidents aren’t uncommon when encountering machinery that operates at high temperatures or that heats water to extremely high temps.
But while today’s boilermakers are more apt to be wearing protective clothing – thanks to OSHA laws – those who did their jobs in decades past were likely not as fortunate. Many were not only injured on the job due to the aforementioned conditions, but countless boilermakers were also exposed to asbestos, a toxic material found in boiler insulation, gaskets, and a number of other items the tradesmen encountered on a daily basis.
When organizations such as the National Health Institutes began to compile lists of jobs where workers were most likely to be exposed to asbestos, boilermakers always seemed to appear fairly high on that list. That’s because they regularly used the material in high temperature applications and, as part of their job duties, often cut, sawed, or otherwise manipulated the asbestos material, causing its toxic, sharp particles to circulate through the air where inhalation was a given. Decades later, this asbestos dust – still inside the boilermaker’s body – would result in the growth of tumors and a diagnosis of deadly mesothelioma.
Even today’s boilermakers can still encounter asbestos-containing materials, though education about its dangers and how to spot these materials is much better, and both unions and government agencies watch out for such hazards. Still, any work-related activity that disturbs asbestos can cause problems for the boilermaker, including removing pipes, valves, or vessels; attaching rigging to pipes or beams; and many other tasks.
Workers must remember that while intact asbestos may not be hazardous, the danger begins the minute asbestos-containing materials are disturbed.
If you or a loved one has worked as a boilermaker – either now or in years past – exposure to asbestos may have occurred. Perhaps you or your family member has already been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease. If so, an experienced mesothelioma attorney can inform you of your legal rights pertaining to negligent exposure and you or your loved one may be eligible for compensation related to this exposure. It’s worth a call.