Over the course of the 20th Century, asbestos was a common material used in a variety of products. From construction materials to protective clothing, asbestos was a popular choice because of its heat resistant properties. For drillers and other workers in the oil industry, asbestos was used practically everywhere. It was even added to drilling mud to help reduce the heat on the drill bits and flush away debris from the well while drilling.
Between the 1960s and 1980s, asbestos fibers were routinely added to drilling mud across the United States. It was most commonly used in oil refineries in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Anyone who worked in the oil drilling sector in the late 1900s is likely to have been exposed to asbestos, putting them at a high risk for mesothelioma cancer.
Asbestos Exposure for Drillers and Oilfield Workers
There are dozens of potential ways drillers could have been exposed to asbestos. It was used in insulation around oil pipes and even woven into the protective clothing drillers wore to protect them from burns at high temperatures. Over time, the protective suits would start to fray and microscopic particles of asbestos would be released into the air and inhaled. When drillers would mix asbestos into mud, it could quickly cause a cloud of asbestos dust to rise. When those fibers land on the body or are inhaled, they lodge in the internal tissues. For years, the body may try to fight the fibers in vain, creating a thick layer of scar tissue and eventually causing cancers of the throat, stomach, or lungs.
Two primary drilling mud brands were known for containing asbestos. Flosal and Visbestos were both packaged in 50-pound bags and were sometimes sold under the name IMCO. Both of these asbestos brands were eventually bought out and, according to current law, the buyout transfers the original company’s liability to the new company. This means that the current companies can still face lawsuits related to asbestos health damages from the original companies.
Driller Asbestos Exposure Lawsuits
There have been a number of lawsuits related to asbestos exposure in the drilling sector. One widow was awarded a settlement of $1.2 million after her husband died from asbestos-related mesothelioma linked to his time on a cement crew at Dowell Company. In another case, a 71-year-old oil worker was awarded $15 million after he got sick from handling products made from 99 percent asbestos. Even if you were exposed to asbestos many years ago, you may still have legal precedent to file a lawsuit.
For thousands of men and women who worked as drillers in the oil industry, asbestos exposure has had life altering consequences. It sometimes takes between 10 and 60 years before asbestos exposure leads to a full-blown case of mesothelioma or related cancers. If you are a former driller who is now suffering from mesothelioma or another form of cancer linked to asbestos, talk to an attorney about your rights to receive compensation for your injuries.