Oil refinery workers are skilled technicians who with specialized skill sets. They work as pipefitters, welders, millwrights, electricians, pump system operators, engineers, boilermakers, ironworkers, and gaugers. To keep an oil refinery running smoothly, the whole team must work together, sometimes under intense stress. Lost time means less oil and lost revenue. Productivity is essential. With over 140 U.S. crude oil refineries processing around 17 million barrels of oil daily, refinery workers are the unsung heroes that keep much of our modern world moving.
Oil Refinery Workers and Asbestos Exposure
While asbestos has been removed from many workplaces to protect the health of employees,
many oil refinery workers come into daily contact with materials that contain asbestos fibers. In addition, since asbestos particles can become airborne, even the oil refinery workers who aren’t working directly with the material are at risk for developing an asbestos-related illness.
Asbestos exposure has been linked to mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. These diseases are caused by inhalation or ingestion of microscopic, airborne asbestos particles that then become embedded in the tissues of the lungs, stomach, or heart. There is no cure for these illnesses.
A comprehensive study conducted in 1994 revealed that asbestos exposure in oil refineries is directly linked to pleural mesothelioma. This is the first study to find an excess of pleural mesothelioma cases among oil refinery workers exposed to asbestos. After the release of this study, doctors began to treat pleural mesothelioma as an occupational disease and began to screen workers in an attempt to earlier identify potential symptoms that could be linked to mesothelioma.
In 2005, an additional study was conducted by the same team of research scientists to delve deeper into their findings. This time, they explored lung tumors. At the end of the study, they revealed that in oil refinery workers 42-49% of the lung tumors and 96-100% of the mesotheliomas the oil refinery workers developed were connected to asbestos and that the odds of the oil refinery workers developing an asbestos-related illness were high.
The Large Number of Asbestos Products used in the Oil Refinery Industry
The number of asbestos products used every day by oil refinery workers is alarming. What’s even more disturbing is that the spread of the fibers might not be limited to the oil refinery workers. The microscopic fibers cling to hair, skin, and clothing, which means that workers may be transporting the deadly fibers home each time they leave the refinery plant.
Products that could contain asbestos include insulation, pipe fittings, pipe cement, pads, gaskets, fittings, and more. If you believe you have been exposed to asbestos through work in an oil refinery, you should alert your doctor in order to get routine health screenings for potential diseases like asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Early detection can help your doctor provide treatment that can increase your life expectancy and enhance your quality of life.
If you believe you were exposed to asbestos on the job, speaking to an asbestos lawyer can help you determine your legal options. Medical care for an asbestos-related illness can be expensive, and you shouldn’t be held responsible when someone else’s negligence or recklessness caused your illness.