Electricians

Electricians are at risk of serious health issues from asbestos use in electrical products and construction materials. Asbestos exposure is the sole cause of mesothelioma — a deadly cancer that many electricians have developed from unsafe working conditions. In some cases, electricians were exposed to asbestos every day of their working lives.

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Electricians and Asbestos Exposure

Electrical trades were highly susceptible to asbestos exposure during its peak use. Asbestos was considered a perfect substance to use in manufacturing electrical products. It’s lightweight, stable and an excellent insulator for thermal transfer of heat and cold. Asbestos also has neutral conductivity, making it the ideal insulator for coating electrical wires.

Over the course of seven decades, multiple generations of electricians worked in asbestos-filled environments. Many electricians developed mesothelioma. It is only caused by inhaling or ingesting asbestos fibers.

Most electricians didn’t know how volatile asbestos exposure was. Today, a large number of electricians employed during the mid-20th century are at great risk of developing this deadly cancer.

How Electricians Were Exposed to Asbestos

Electricians worked with large quantities of airborne asbestos fibers at all types of job sites. This exposure occurred from the 1920s when many building products contained asbestos and were present where electricians worked.

Many electricians worked on construction, maintenance, repair, and renovation sites. Their work required them to cut through asbestos-insulated wires and walls stuffed with asbestos. Every time they handled asbestos materials, electricians, or nearby workers disturbed inert asbestos, sending tiny fibers airborne.

Over the years, every electrician working with asbestos breathed in dangerous asbestos particles.

Asbestos Products Used in Electrical Work

Many electrical products were formerly made with asbestos, including:

Overall worksites also exposed electricians to all sorts of asbestos products as many other building products of the time contained asbestos. Paints, glues, and sealants contained asbestos particles that filled the air from cutting, shaping, and installing.

Construction sites also had asbestos in:

Wires and cables weren’t the only electrical products containing asbestos. Asbestos linings and washers insulated breaker boxes and contact terminals. Electric ducts or raceways were filled with asbestos to prevent fires from electrical shorts. Even an electrician’s clothing and tools were made with asbestos to insulate them from electrocution.

Electrician Careers

Every American jurisdiction requires electricians to be trained and certified. Electricians go through a period of apprenticing before being licensed to work on their own.

Ticketed electricians are called journeymen. This trade-qualification has been in place since the 1800s when electrical systems began.

By the turn of the 20th century, the electrical industry was booming. Generation stations and transmission lines tied a grid across the nation. It served cities, farms, and factories. The demand for experienced electricians grew enormously.

Soon, electrical systems snaked through homes, automobiles, and the growing number of ships being built to serve the military and intercontinental trade.

Ticketed electricians generally fell into three classifications. Their training in electrical theory was similar but their practical applications involved different materials and processes.

The three electrician levels included:

  • Residential electricians: worked with light voltage and amperage. They wired homes, apartment blocks, and multi-family projects.
  • Commercial electricians: worked on medium-sized buildings. Businesses, schools, and small factories are prime examples of projects worked on by commercial electricians.
  • Industrial electricians: worked on large-sized buildings. They installed electrical wiring and control components in factories, mills, and refineries as well as in electrical generation powerhouses.

Shipyards, auto assembly lines, and aircraft factories employed hundreds of specialized electricians. But no matter what role electricians served during most of the 20th century, they were all exposed to asbestos.

Electrician Health Risks

Tiny shards of spear-like asbestos fibers filled the air where electricians worked. Day after day and year after year, electricians inhaled microscopic asbestos particles that embedded in the tissue linings of their lungs, abdomen, or heart.

Asbestos fibers are impossible to exhale. They sit in the organ lining forever, irritating and inflaming the tissues until they trigger cancerous mutations. This can lead to mesothelioma.

For 20-50 years, there are no obvious symptoms of this fatal disease until it has fully established. By then, the prognosis for electricians or anyone exposed to asbestos on a regular basis is poor.

Help for Mesothelioma Victims

What’s tragic about electricians who develop mesothelioma is that their exposure was preventable. Asbestos manufacturers were fully aware of the health risks of their products and failed to warn workers of the medical risks.

There are many court precedents where electricians and other tradespeople are compensated after developing mesothelioma. Awards are available for lost income, medical expenses, and punitive damages.

Families are also . allowed to file claims on behalf of members with mesothelioma. This includes wrongful death lawsuits.

Our Justice Support Team can provide you with more legal and medical resources if you have mesothelioma. See all the ways we can help today.

Author:Stephanie Kidd

Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network

Stephanie Kidd

Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

Last modified: September 5, 2019

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