3 Ways Shipyard Workers Were Exposed to Asbestos

Between World War II and the Korean War, the use of asbestos in ships was at its peak. Because the material was versatile, fireproof, and abundant, it was used in many parts of the vessels. However, scientists discovered that this material came at a great human cost with shipyard lung disease becoming a frequent hazard. Many people who worked in shipyards during that time developed cancers associated with asbestos exposure. Though less common in today’s vessels, the danger is still present for those who work on them in these three ways.

Ship Repair

If left undisturbed, asbestos can be relatively harmless. However, once the material is damaged or disturbed, the risk of inhaling the dangerous fibers increases greatly. Repairing the ships often involves removing or cutting into the material, making it risky for workers’ health.

Ship Construction

The great ships built last century were a major factor in winning America’s wars. However, the workers cutting, ripping, and screwing through asbestos while installing pipes, wiring, and many other components were exposed to the material.

Ship Decommissioning

Once a ship is no longer needed, it’s often scrapped for valuable parts. However, taking a ship apart rivet by rivet also exposes workers to dangerous amounts of asbestos contained therein and makes the task risky.

Workers in shipyards built some of the greatest military assets that ever crossed the oceans. However, the materials used in bygone eras were dangerous and caused disease, and still present a hazard today.