Freight and Material Handlers and Asbestos Exposure


Many US Navy veterans who served the country were daily exposed to asbestos because it was widely used in the shipbuilding process. It is a known fact that when this mineral was used as coating for pipes, engines, turbines and other parts of a ship as it prevented them from catching fire. Unfortunately, this great quality comes with a cost: the asbestos fibers released into thin air affect the lining of the lungs when inhaled. Asbestos exposure related diseases have a latency period of 20-50 years.

A freight and material handler is a worker whose task is transportation of goods. The handlers have specific tasks starting with dragline and tractor operations to ship loaders, packagers or industrial truck drivers. The freight and material handlers were exposed at the contact with toxic products that contained asbestos. In the absence of a mechanic, handlers were sometimes responsible with the inspection, maintenance and repairing of brake linings, brake pads, electrical system or clutch facings which contained asbestos in their components.

Benjamin P., freight handler on USS Oriskany CV-34, told us that: "When we found out about asbestos it was already too late for us because we already had the symptoms of those terrifying diseases. Not only we were exposed to asbestos, but we carried the dust on our clothes, shoes and equipment back home to our families. We now pray for their health." He died in 2014 from asbestos exposure caused esophageal cancer.

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