Maritime Workers and Asbestos Exposure

Shipbuilders frequently use asbestos-containing products. Most commonly, they use asbestos as an insulating and fireproofing material.

Many ship construction companies employed spray-on applications of asbestos containing materials. Spray-on applications can quickly lead to the asbestos fibers and materials becoming friable. The constant motion of ships as they change engine speeds or are buffeted by waves exacerbates the process.

As asbestos materials disintegrate, small fibers eject into the air. Since maritime workers often work and live in enclosed spaces, they face a high risk of breathing in the fibers over sustained periods. Research shows that those who worked in the engine room face the highest risk of exposure. Those who worked on the deck face the second-highest risk of exposure.

Asbestos Exposure among Maritime Workers and Cancer Risk

Ships frequently utilized blue crocidolite asbestos and brown amosite asbestos. These two amphibole asbestos types pose some of the highest risks of developing a deadly mesothelioma or lung cancer diagnosis.

Seamen exhibit a much higher cancer rate than the normal population. Respiratory cancers represent the largest portion of these. A study of 1973-1978 maritime worker deaths found that 46% were cancer-related. Another study of 1985-1987 maritime workers found that 35% had pleural abnormalities or similar health conditions of the lungs consistent with asbestos exposure. It is important for these workers to continually receive medical monitoring and achieve an early diagnosis of lung cancer or mesothelioma to have the best chance of survival

Maritime Asbestos Exposure, Liability, and Litigation

Unlike most land-based professions, many maritime workers lack the legal protections in terms of liability and compensation. Legislators revised the Jones Law to include such provisions but making a connection between asbestos exposure and causation of medical conditions to prove liability can be difficult without the help of skilled legal representation.

Some states, like Washington, have specific laws regarding asbestos exposure and maritime workers.

Despite these limitations, many maritime workers successfully pursue litigation against employers. A case concerning a deceased Carnival Cruiseline worker who developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure at sea was awarded $3.6 million to his family.

Maritime Professions with a Risk of Asbestos Exposure

  • Cargo shipping
  • Cruise lines
  • Passenger ships
  • Exploration and drilling
  • Research vessels

If you or a family member once worked on a ship and have been diagnosed with asbestos-related lung cancer or mesothelioma, contact Mesowatch today. You will connect with our nationwide team of experienced lawyers and receive immediate assistance as well as a free, confidential case evaluation. With your attorney team, you will quickly identify all liable parties and pursue maximum compensation for your losses.