While workers in numerous industries are concerned about asbestos exposure, some occupations pose more danger than others. One industry, however, that might see a devastating boom in mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases – offshore oil rigs. land rigs and oil refineries.
Asbestos fibers were a significant component in building materials designed to be heat resistant or resistant to fire. Decades ago, for example, steam pipes, insulation and ceiling tiles contained asbestos with the ultimate goal of heat protection. Unfortunately, the inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to asbestosis, mesothelioma and other deadly lung diseases.
In the 1970s, the oil industry experienced a worldwide boom. To keep up, companies were forces to build numerous oil rigs and land rigs. In an effort to meet consumer demand, construction started on oil refineries – processing plants where crude oil is refined into useful products. Oil refinery workers have potentially been exposed to asbestos in different products, such as:
- Thermal insulation: Where heat and fire are a concern, the refinery machinery must be protected by a material that is heat and fire retardant. For example, pipelines, tanks, boilers, dryers, heat exchangers and pumps were often lined with asbestos insulation.
- Refinery equipment: While the thermal insulation was designed to be fire retardant, the equipment itself was built to have the same qualities. Asbestos was an integral component in the manufacture of equipment such as gaskets that were used in piping and pumps to prevent leaks.
- Construction products: Asbestos has been used in protective screens around on-site welding operations, in some brands of duct tape, and as insulation in floor, ceiling and roofing tiles, walls and work surfaces.
- Protective equipment: The process of refining oil involves the use of high heat and flammable materials. As such, asbestos products were historically used to protect employees from these dangers. From protective clothing to safety equipment, workers in an oil refinery were potentially exposed to toxic materials.
Regardless of their specific occupation, most oil refinery workers have been exposed to dangerous substances on the job. Depending on the extent and duration of the exposure, workers could face devastating, deadly conditions such as mesothelioma. It is crucial that you act quickly to learn more about your disease and your legal options for monetary compensation.