Asbestos Exposure in Furnace Men, Smelter Men, and Pourers

Because the jobs of furnace men, smelter men, and pourers involve extremely high temperatures, exposure to asbestos was very common. Asbestos is often used for its fire-retardant qualities and was therefore widespread in the work environments that furnace men, smelter operators, and pourers carried their tasks out in every day.

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Furnace men, smelter operators and pourers all work in close proximity with metal and metal ores in refineries. These workers may maintain various types of furnaces, including gas, coal, oil, oxygen and electric furnaces that are used to melt and refine metal ore. The metal goes on to be employed for many uses, from casting to steel production.

Asbestos Exposure in Furnace Men, Smelter Men, and Pourers

Furnace men, smelter men, and pourers all worked in already risky work environments where exposure to extreme temperatures was a given. As a result, those working in the industry prior to the 1980s were likely wearing personal protective gear and clothing that contained asbestos.

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While the asbestos-containing gear was intended to protect the workers’ health and safety, it was likely the culprit behind the onset of asbestos-related illnesses in many workers.

In addition to clothing, asbestos was also present in these work environments in other ways:

  • Asbestos insulation used in furnaces: It can be sprayed on or applied with asbestos boards
  • Binding agents: These agents contain asbestos dust and debris failed to function at the high temperatures required for smelting

Workers who handled the furnaces and their high-temperature metals were at the highest risk of being exposed to asbestos, but the risk did not end with them.

Family members of workers could have also been exposed through secondhand asbestos exposure if they carried fibers home on clothing and hair.

Although the risk of asbestos exposure for furnace men, smelter men, and pourers is lower today due to new safety standards and protective measures, the risk has not been eliminated. Asbestos is still found in many household furnaces in homes built before the 1980s.

Furnace Men, Smelter Men, and Pourers Roles and Responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities of furnace men, smelter men, and pourers revolve heavily around maintenance duties. These workers are in charge of maintaining all of the heavy-duty equipment they use to melt and refine metals.

Some of their maintenance duties include:

  • Assessing furnace and kettle samples to check that product specifications are being met
  • Cleaning and inspecting furnace walls and floors
  • Removing metalwork pieces from furnaces
  • Scraping metal oxide buildup off machinery

Furnace Men, Smelter Men, and Pourers and Mesothelioma

Furnace men, smelter men, and pourers were all put at risk of developing mesothelioma due to the asbestos they were exposed to in the workplace.

However, it wasn’t simply the presence of asbestos that placed them at risk — it was how the asbestos was used.

The danger of asbestos is low when it remains concealed and undisturbed. However, when asbestos is disturbed or crumbles, it disintegrates into lightweight, fine fibers that become airborne — ready to be inhaled and ingested.

When the protective clothing that furnace men, smelter men, and pourers wore rubbed up against other surfaces, asbestos fibers would have broken off.

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Industries where high temperatures are involved present an even greater risk to workers since warm air currents retain airborne asbestos fibers longer than cooler air environments.

Many furnace and smelting rooms were poorly ventilated, allowing for large quantities of asbestos to accumulate throughout the day.

When furnace men, smelter men, and pourers worked in these environments, the asbestos fibers they inhaled may have entered into their respiratory system, ending up in the lungs, chest, or even the heart. These fibers irritate the tissue they land in, creating scars and genetic damage that can lead to mesothelioma tumors.

Because mesothelioma symptoms don’t present themselves for decades after asbestos exposure, many furnace men, smelter men, and pourers who worked in the industry years ago are only now experiencing signs of mesothelioma.

Compensation for Furnace Men, Smelter Men, and Pourers With Mesothelioma

If you worked as a furnace man, smelter man, or pourer with mesothelioma and believe you were exposed to asbestos on the job, you can take steps to obtain compensation.

Whether you or a loved one developed mesothelioma from working in this high-risk industry, there are a variety of legal options available to you.

Our Justice Support Team can connect you with compensation options if you developed mesothelioma. Learn more about how we can help.

Mesothelioma Support Team
Stephanie KiddWritten by:


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.

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