Forge Men and Asbestos Exposure
From the 1930s through the 1970s, forge men were exposed daily to asbestos fibers during their regular work activities.
Asbestos has superior properties as a fireproofing and insulating material. Forge men, who worked daily with high temperatures and fire, used materials “improved” with asbestos every day to ensure their safety and the safety of the commodity they were producing.
The most common sources of exposure for forge men were:
- Coke Oven
- Power Houses
- Steel Mill
- Torch Cutting
Aggravating the forge men’s exposure to asbestos, the personal protective equipment meant to keep workers safe was unfortunately laden with the deadly material. It was usually made with highly insulating and fireproof asbestos-based materials.
Types of asbestos-based personal protective equipment forge men used included:
- Coatings on work surfaces
- Fire blankets
In addition, most workers would have only used simple dust masks for respiratory protection, which would have allowed asbestos fibers to penetrate.
All Forge Men Were Exposed
A study in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine shows that 100% of forge men suffered exposure to asbestos particles on the job. The study also showed that roughly 20% of workers developed chronic lung conditions.
Forge men were found to have developed symptoms such as:
- Chronic bronchitis
- Chronic phlegm
- Pleural thickening
All the above symptoms are associated with asbestos exposure and often precede mesothelioma.