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.
Over the course of seven decades, multiple generations of electricians worked in asbestos-filled environments. Many electricians developed the deadly disease called mesothelioma. Its only cause is from 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 mesothelioma.
Electrician Careers and Job Roles
Every American jurisdiction requires electricians to be trained and certified. Electricians go through a period of understudy or 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 3 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 where commercial electricians worked.
- Industrial Electricians: Worked on large size building. 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.
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. Asbestos is 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.
Wires and cables weren’t the only electrical products containing asbestos. Asbestos linings and washers isolated breaker boxes and contact terminals. Electric ducts or raceways were filled with asbestos to prevent fires from electrical shorts. Even electrician’s clothing and tools were made with asbestos to insulate them from electrocution.
Overall worksites exposed electricians to all sorts of asbestos materials 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:
- Wall insulation
Maintenance and Renovations
Many electricians worked on maintenance, repair and renovation sites. Their work required electricians to cut through asbestos insulated wires and walls stuffed with asbestos fibers. 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.
Electricians and Mesothelioma Risk
Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by asbestos exposure. 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.
Usually, there are no obvious symptoms of this fatal disease developing until mesothelioma has fully established. By then, the prognosis for electricians or anyone exposed to asbestos on a regular basis is poor.
Compensation for Electricians With Mesothelioma
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 allowed to file claims on behalf of members with mesothelioma. This includes wrongful death lawsuits.
For more information on seeking justice for electricians exposed to asbestos, contact our Justice Support Team today.