Metalsmiths and Asbestos Exposure


Navy shipyards involved a higher degree of exposure and risk for developing asbestos-related diseases, as all vessels required construction work, which implied installing and removing items containing asbestos.

Because shipbuilding relied on heavy amounts of asbestos, everyone working in shipyards was exposed to the toxic asbestos fibers, and many workers suffered exposure without having to handle the dangerous mineral.

In their rush to complete the increasing amounts of orders for Navy ships, shipbuilding companies took no interest if their workers were exposed to the tiny asbestos particles, and manufacturers withheld their knowledge about the harmful effects of asbestos. Consequently, those building the ships worked without protective equipment, while most manufacturing operations created massive amounts of dust by processing materials through:

  • cutting
  • sawing
  • shaping
  • repair

If inhaled or ingested over an extended period, the microscopic asbestos fibers damage the lining of organs and can cause cell mutation that may lead to cancers stemming from asbestos exposure:

Veterans and shipyard workers diagnosed with these illnesses qualify for compensation and are eligible to file claims.

Metalsmiths were responsible for repairing any damage to the ship and had to wear heat protective equipment while welding, which also contained asbestos meant to isolate them from the high temperatures they were constantly in contact with. As a result, their gear would often deteriorate, which only accelerated the release of asbestos fibers into the air. They were directly exposed to asbestos products and in danger of inhaling the toxic fibers daily being in charge of handling sheet metal through:

  • shaping
  • cutting
  • welding

Metalsmiths also served in the military, where they handled directly asbestos products while forging metal elements and carrying out inspections on vessels and their components.

Quoting Richard B., who served on the USS Monssen (DD-798): "We had to saw through asbestos insulation around pipes which dispensed a lot of dust that we inevitably inhaled, causing us irreparable health damages."

U.S. Navy workers were at significant risk of developing an incurable disease due to asbestos exposure. Those diagnosed with malignant illnesses stemming from exposure to the fibers may qualify for filing claims. We offer support in taking legal steps by putting former Navy service members and shipyard workers in touch with expert attorneys who can assist them in successfully applying for benefits from the asbestos trust funds and the VA.

If you have a cancer diagnosis please contact us

Related News & Updates