At times, it seems as if everything related to asbestos is slow-moving. An individual could inhale an asbestos fiber when they are in their 20s and it could slowly work its way deep inside their lungs. Eventually, it comes to rest and it then begins the process of creating the disease, mesothelioma that does not emerge until 20, 30 or 40 years into the future and will cause the painful death of that individual.
The disclosure of the dangers of asbestos, too proceeded at a glacial pace. Companies in England near the turn of the 20th century had already noted that workers in plants that processed asbestos or make products from it developed a lung cancer that was killing them.
Decades passed and more workers died, and more internal studies by these companies showed the dangers of asbestos, and still no warnings, no requirements by these companies that these workers wear protective clothing or that the presence of asbestos fibers be reduced.
More time passed and more workers died and finally the government tried to intervene, but these companies fought the regulation and sued to prevent the government from banning the deadly fiber.
In Ohio this month, the families of deceased workers began filing claims against a fund created by Travelers Insurance for workers who had been exposed to asbestos from Johns Manville Corp. products.
Many of these men were employed by Goodyear Tire. The company recognized the potential danger of asbestos in 1939 in an internal report. Asbestos reportedly floated down like snowflakes and the operation was described as “exceedingly dirty.” But nothing was done.
The claims date to the 1980s, and the fund was set up in 2004, but it is only more than a decade later, after Travelers had exhausted all of its numerous appeals in an attempt to prevent any payments being made from the fund that the first claims may finally be paid out to the victims’ families.
One has to wonder had the company taken seriously the report from 1939, how many of these claims would have been unnecessary?
Source: Ohio.com, “More than 1,300 damage claims filed on behalf of former Akron-area rubber, auto workers who suffered from asbestos exposure,” Ed Meyer, Beacon Journal, June 22, 2015