Asbestos is frequently found in many homes and buildings throughout the United States. Up until the 1970s, asbestos was used in various construction materials and equipment regularly. Due to the handling of electrical wires and equipment within the interior of buildings and various structures, electricians are at high-risk to exposure. Exposure to asbestos can result in a wide variety of long term health issues, one of the most common and serious being mesothelioma. 

Electricians & Asbestos History

Because asbestos was used in mass amounts of products, particularly construction and insulation materials, electricians are at extreme risk of exposure. Between the 1920s and 1980s, asbestos was commonly used in electrical wiring as it was able to act as an insulator, resisting heat coming from the wiring. During this time period, electricians were in danger of inhaling these fibers while installing or working with wires wrapped in these materials. 

Although the risk of asbestos exposure through electrical wiring is not as high anymore, electricians are still in danger when working with other construction materials that may contain asbestos. Because health effects such as mesothelioma can take over 40 years to develop, it’s important for people who have worked with electrical wire and equipment during that time to understand that they may be at risk.

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How Electricians May Have Been Exposed

Asbestos was used in many materials used by electricians such as insulation agents for electrical wiring, often being handled, touched, moved, and cut by electricians. Once asbestos-containing products are moved or disturbed, asbestos fibers are released into the air. These microscopic fibers put anyone near the material at risk of inhalation. This exposure to asbestos can lead to serious health issues such as lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. 

Although there are now regulation standards preventing asbestos usage in most products manufactured after the 1980s, there are still other methods of exposure that put electricians at higher risk. Working on older buildings or construction sites where asbestos-containing electrical components, insulation, and adhesives were used still presents a high risk of exposure. Any type of building material containing asbestos is able to release the fibers into the air.


High-Risk Occupations

There are several electrical careers that may have put workers at a higher risk compared to other occupations. The following include some of these high-risk occupations:

  • Electrical Wiring
  • Tape
  • Insulation
  • Cables
  • Thermal Paper
  • Electrical Panels
  • Electrical Cloth
  • Drywall

Asbestos-Containing Products

Since the dangers of asbestos were not widely known or understood until the 1980s, asbestos was used in a variety of materials. Asbestos was considered an essential element to various industries such as the construction, manufacturing, chemical industries. 

The range of products and materials containing asbestos is vast, but there are some that electricians were more commonly exposed to. These electrical products include but are not limited to:

  • Anaconda
  • Fisher Scientific Company
  • General Electric Company
  • Hatfield
  • Okonite
  • Phelps Dodge
  • Rockbestos Product Corporation
  • Thermo Electric, Inc.
  • Westinghouse Electric Corporation
  • U.S. Steel Corporation

Lawsuits

Over time the number of lawsuits related to asbestos exposure in the workplace has grown, as many workers develop mesothelioma or other serious health issues. Luckily, there is a court system put in place to hold companies and manufacturers responsible for the exposure.

In February of 2000, Howard Plum, a previous electrician, was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Plumb had been exposed to asbestos in the 1940s through asbestos-containing electrical cables made by General Electric. General Electric was found guilty within this trial and Plumb and his wife were awarded $1.5 million.


Manufacturers

Manufacturers that produced asbestos-containing products and materials handled by electricians include but are not limited to:

  • Anaconda
  • Fisher Scientific Company
  • General Electric Company
  • Hatfield
  • Okonite
  • Phelps Dodge
  • Rockbestos Product Corporation
  • Thermo Electric, Inc.
  • Westinghouse Electric Corporation
  • U.S. Steel Corporation

Financial Compensation for Electricians

Asbestos trusts were made to provide victims of asbestos exposure and their families with financial compensation. This financial compensation is provided in order to assist with paying for health care expenses, bills, and any additional living expenses. The amount of compensation that victims can receive varies depending on several factors such as the time of diagnosis and the severity of the diagnosis.

Asbestos victims must file a claim based on a specific asbestos trust in order to be eligible for this compensation.  These trusts help ensure that victims and families can avoid any financial hardships caused by mesothelioma and other asbestos-related health issues.

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Reviewed by Samuel Meirowitz

Attorney and On-Site Legal Advocate

Samuel Meirowitz is a member of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers.” Mr. Meirowitz was named a “Rising Star” in 2013 & 2014 by Super Lawyers and then a Super Lawyer every year since 2016. In 2013, Mr. Meirowitz obtained what is believed to be the first multi-million-dollar asbestos verdict seen in more than two decades in a New York federal court. In that highly contentious matter, Mr. Meirowitz was able to convince the jury to hold a boiler manufacturer responsible for 60 percent of the $3.8 million awarded, despite the defendant’s attempt to escape all blame by pointing fingers at the plaintiff’s employer and the U.S. Navy (in which the plaintiff admirably served from 1966-70 during the Vietnam conflict). This verdict was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

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