Today’s construction industry is one of the cornerstones of the American economy, providing jobs to millions of people across the country. Installers play an important role in construction, installing plumbing, electrical wiring, HVAC systems, and appliances. Installers face a high risk of asbestos exposure because they are commonly on job sites where asbestos materials are being removed.
If you worked as an installer prior to the 1980s, you were likely exposed to asbestos as it was commonly installed in homes for flooring, ceiling covering, or insulation. Back then, people had no idea that this common construction material could be deadly, and it was used practically everywhere. Because of its high resistance to heat, asbestos was seen as the perfect choice for insulating a home or commercial building—and even schools. Now we know that asbestos exposure can cause serious diseases like mesothelioma. If you’ve been exposed, it could lead to major health problems years down the road.
Job-Related Risks: Asbestos, the Invisible Killer
Installers face a high risk of injury in the workplace. Most people associate the risk with typical construction-related accidents like falls or trauma from daily work like back or knee injuries. However, an estimated 17% of construction injuries are linked to exposure to toxins like asbestos. Experts predict that nearly 10,000 construction workers will die each year over the next decade from asbestosis and mesothelioma, diseases that are directly caused by exposure to asbestos. Even with the improvements in construction materials and protective gear, around 1.3 million construction site workers are exposed to asbestos annually.
Installers face the highest risk when working in old buildings. Most structures that were built before 1980 are likely to contain asbestos in the insulation, floors, walls, roof, pipes, and boilers. While many of the old asbestos uses have now been banned, it is still being used for packing roof panels and gaskets. So anytime installers go to a job site with old construction, they run a high risk of inhaling dangerous toxins from asbestos dust.
The highest risk remains with installers of drywall, flooring, plumbing, and insulation. These workers could encounter asbestos on a near daily basis. To make matters worse, installers are often working on site as old asbestos materials are cut, sanded, stapled, or sprayed. Each time asbestos is disturbed, it unleashes a cloud of toxins into the air that can make anyone on a job site sick.
It may come as a surprise, but even appliance installers face serious risks of exposure to asbestos. Electrolux, a brand that remains the world’s largest appliance manufacturer, has been named in hundreds of separate asbestos lawsuits. In 2012, an Electrolux installer and repair technician sued the company, claiming the Electrolux products had exposed him to asbestos that led to his diagnosis of lung cancer.
General Electric, Whirlpool, Sunbeam, and Conair have also faced lawsuits related to asbestos products. If you have been exposed to asbestos while working as an installer, you could have grounds for a lawsuit. Many companies have created funds specifically to give compensation to people who were unknowingly exposed to this dangerous substance. Talk with an asbestos lawyer about your situation and find out more about your legal options.