Asbestos Exposure In Forge Men

Forge men are skilled tradesmen who work with structural steel. Ironwork is a dangerous trade involving the immediate risks of height, high temperatures, heavy equipment, compressed gases, fire and crushingly heavy materials. Work-related deaths in this profession are 10 times higher than the national construction average. However, one of the most menacing hazards on a forge man’s job site is not one he can see—airborne asbestos fibers cause horrible and deadly lung diseases, such as mesothelioma.

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Forge Men Roles and Responsibilities

Forge men are employed in a wide variety of jobs and worksites that involve the shaping, forming and fabrication of metals. The main role of a forgeman is to heat metal to make them pliable and functional in construction.

Some of the roles forge men fill include:

  • Fabrication in mills
  • Erecting steel structures
  • Hoisting steel into place
  • Installing new projects
  • Repairing and servicing structural ironwork
  • Precasting concrete and other reinforcing materials
  • Constructing curtain walls
  • Creating ornamental iron

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:

  • Installation
  • Removal
  • Welding
  • Torch Cutting
  • Steel Mill
  • Foundry
  • Coke Oven
  • Power House

Mesothelioma Justice Network Brief

For forge men, the highest exposure to asbestos occurred with the fumes and gases from welding and torch cutting, followed by air contaminants at steel mills and foundries.

Other high-risk tasks included sawing and cutting asbestos-containing materials during construction, demolition and maintenance.

Asbestos-Containing PPE

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:

  • Fire blankets
  • Coatings on work surfaces
  • Gloves
  • Masks

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:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Chronic phlegm
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Dyspnea
  • Pleural thickening

All the above symptoms are associated with asbestos exposure and often precede mesothelioma.

Forge Men and Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. The fibers become embedded in the lining of the lung, abdomen or heart, and can cause decades or irritation to healthy tissues.

While prolonged exposure to asbestos increases the risk of diseases like mesothelioma, even minimal exposure can result in cancer even decades after exposure.

Compensation for Forge Men

The companies that manufactured and distributed asbestos products are liable for the health problems their products have caused. Many lawsuits against these companies have been successful.

Forge men affected by asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma, are entitled to compensation. Asbestos trust funds have been set up by asbestos product suppliers to help victims recover medical costs, lost wages and support family members.

Personal injury claims may be made by the afflicted forge men to receive compensation. In the event of an asbestos-related death, a family member may file a wrongful death claim and receive compensation on their loved one’s behalf.

If you worked as a forge man and have since developed mesothelioma, you may be eligible for legal compensation.

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: May 22, 2019

View 5 Sources
  1. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, “Respiratory Health in Asbestos-Exposed Ironworkers”, Accessed on May 1 2018
  2. Infrastructure Health & Safety Association, “Occupational Health Risks Ironworkers”, Accessed on May 1 2018
  3. CPWR Technical Report, “Analysis of Work-Related Safety & Health Hazards of Unrepresented Workers in the Iron Working Industry”, Accessed on May 1 2018
  4. US National Library of Medicine, “Respiratory Findings Among Ironworkers: Results from a Clinical Survey in the New York Metropolitan Area and Identification of Health Hazards from Asbestos in Place at Work”, Accessed on May 1 2018
  5. New Solutions, “The Labour Movement’s Role in Gaining Federal Safety and Health Standards to Protect America’s Workers”, Accessed on May 1 2018
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