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Electricians & Mesothelioma from Asbestos Exposure at Work

Electricians & Mesothelioma: Lawyers and Legal Options

Legally Edited by: Ethan A. Flint Attorney & Flint Law Firm Partner

Last modified: FEBRUARY 12, 2021
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Electrical Workers from apprentices all of the up to master electricians have career exposures to Asbestos. Unlike other trades, they are not working with it directly, but as part of their jobs. Also, electricians have worked with Asbestos containing electrical insulation without knowing it, including high-temperature wire, insulating blocks, and phenolic resins.

Old Electrical Components Contain Asbestos

One might not think that electrical workers would be around Asbestos like an insulator or pipefitter. One of the main things the electricians work with is bare wire and other metal conductors. Asbestos is in several products that electricians used daily.

If you or a loved one worked in the electrical field and were diagnosed with Mesothelioma or Lung Cancer, please let one of our lawyers help you.

Appliance wire (high temp wire) was used in every home until 1980.  Asbestos flash guards are in rewireable fuse carriers. Arc chutes used to protect high voltage sparks contained Asbestos until the late 1980s. Older electricians will remember encountering "fish paper" and using brands of friction tape like Okanite that contained Asbestos. Another source of the exposure until the 1990s was thermal plastics and phenolic resins.

Phenolic Resins and other Asbestos Impregnated Plastics

Electricians are exposed whenever they're working with insulating blocks or plastic, phenolic resins, or composite material. For example, pre-1990s electrical panels from notable brands like General Electric, Westinghouse, and Square D contained Asbestos insulating blocks.

Other products like manual disconnects, switchgear, and circuits contained the Asbestos insulating compounds as well. All mounting blocks for the circuitry from that era were either a phenolic resin (basically the grandfather of modern plastic) or an Asbestos wafers coated in plastic such as Bakelite or Micarta board.

Electricians' Work Creates Breathable Dust

From the 1940s until the late 1980s, electricians regularly worked with Asbestos. By nature, electricians are problem solvers, and no job ever goes perfectly.  The most efficient and safest solution will involve drilling a hole, cut part of an insulating board or block. Any action taken to manipulate, alter, or disturb an Asbestos-containing product causes breathable fibers to be released.

Other actions, like cutting or trimming wire insulation, are performed thousands of times and don't appear to be dirty jobs. However, each time you cut Asbestos insulation or use a wire stripper, you release thousands of tiny Asbestos pieces into the air space near your face. Electrical work is an intimate affair and means that any Asbestos you disturb is within arms reach or closer.

Asbestos Exposure from the Job Site and other Trades

Another source of Asbestos exposure for Electricians is the general job site exposure caused by other trades and their products. Before 1980 most construction materials contain some asbestos, like a joint compound for drywall, acoustical tile, floor tile, soundproofing, or insulation.

To follow the electrical code and do their job, electricians must drill and cut holes through the work of other trades.

I worked as an electrician's apprentice before going to law school. I often felt like most of my day was spent punching holes in others' work and pulling Romex cable. Any work disturbing the Asbestos products on the job site would cause Asbestos exposures.

Ethan Flint - Asbestos Attorney - Flint Law Firm


We can Help Electricians Diagnosed with Mesothelioma

Our Mesothelioma attorneys will be able to get you monetary compensation from existing companies and bankrupt companies. Flint Law Firm will ensure you have received every benefit from every claim possible.

Compensation For Family Members of a Mesothelioma Victim

Mesothelioma Compensation For Recently Diagnosed Patients Family Member Passed

Compensation For People Recently Diagnosed With Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma Compensation For Recently Diagnosed Patients I Was Diagnosed

The Story of Leslie McKinley

Veteran / Electrician Diagnosed with Mesothelioma

At the age of 16, Leslie joined the United States Marine Corp. This is  too young to enlist, but Leslie was tall for his age, and at that point in World War II, "…people were not asking too many questions if you could shoot straight and loved your country."

He showed us his first picture in uniform, with a winning smile and a lean frame. He said, "That boy there did not know what he was getting into…" Leslie was from East Texas and had never seen the ocean before. The next thing he knew, he was on the USS Rochambeau being transported to the Pacific theater.

Leslie served in the Philippines, Guadalcanal, and finally ended up on the beach of a rocky island called Iwo Jima: second day, seventh wave. Leslie's wave was one of the first to establish a beachhead and make their wave to the minimal cover a couple of hundred yards ahead.

Sitting in front of his fireplace and listening to his account of that day was like touching history itself. Leslie confirmed that the famous raising of the flag did happen. Still, it was a smaller makeshift flagpole (a piece of pipe), and that no Marine paid much attention to it at the time because they were trying to stay alive.

He told us how the fight continued for days because the island we full of caves and tunnels, and every inch was contested. At the end of that first day, which happened to be Leslie's 17th birthday, he received an extra corn fritter to mark the occasion. He said, "it was the tastiest thing I had ever eaten until I remembered that it was another Marine's meal."

After the war, Leslie returned to Texas and became an electrician's apprentice and eventually a master electrician. He spent the next 45 years working in construction, mostly in the rapidly growing Houston metro area. Leslie worked in commercial and residential construction and equal time building new buildings and rehabbing existing structures. He was married to Elise, his high school sweetheart, and went on to have five children and eleven grandchildren.

Leslie McKinley - 50 Years Later

Unfortunately for Leslie and for everyone from what Tom Brokaw called the "Greatest Generation", he worked at a time (the 1950s to the 1980s) when products and job sites were not protected from carcinogens. The new construction materials he used and the job sites he worked on all contained Asbestos. The older buildings that Leslie had to piece together with upgraded panels and circuits also contained Asbestos.

That is why Leslie (who never smoked) called our firm to help because, at the age of 77, he was facing a diagnosis of stage IV Pleural Mesothelioma.

Winning Leslie McKinley Case

Thankfully, he witnessed that as it happened. Leslie was awarded significant compensation from the Asbestos manufacturers and was able to leave his wife, Elise, with no debt or financial worries for the future. However, the thing that made this combat-decorated Veteran the proudest what that he was able to pay for the education of all his great-grandchildren—two went on to become Marines.

Privacy notice: Any mention of a client's name has either been expressly approved by our client (and their family) or is changed to protect the family's privacy.

It was their job to release those asbestos fibers and breathe them, which causes mechanics to be diagnosed with Mesothelioma, Asbestos lung cancer, and Asbestosis up to 50 or 60 years later.

Electricians & Asbestos Exposure FAQs

We Used To Set Wire Tailings On Fire. Would That Cause Asbestos Exposure?

At the end of many jobs, electricians and their apprentices would collect up leftover pieces of wire from a job and burn it.  The copper from these wire tailings was valuable enough to recycle, and the simplest way to do that was to throw it in a 55-gallon drum. On jobs, I worked; this was called either the "beer fund" or the "college fund."

Unfortunately, after you burned the tailings, the only thing left would be a bird's nest of copper wire and fibers of Asbestos insulation.

I Don't Remember What Brands Of Electrical Products I Used Decades Ago. Can I Still File A Claim?

Yes, if our lawyers know where you worked and what jobs you performed over your career, we generally know what products you used. After decades of litigation, the most well-known job sites already have co-workers' testimony or a proven list of products we can rely upon to help you. Besides, given the time to think about it, you might be surprised what you remember.

How Do I Prove What Job Sites Worked At So Many Years Later?

There are several ways to track down job sites and locations, even 60 or 70 years later. For each client, we order Social Security Earnings records, which can be used as employment evidence. Also, if you worked out of a union hall, Flint Law Firm can request the union records to prove job sites and dates of work. Finally, keep in mind that an approximate decade and location are often enough evidence to negotiate a settlement.

Adrianne Andrus

Reviewed by:  Adrienne Andrus
Chief Editor of Flint law Firm LLC
Client Advocate & Product Liability Paralegal since 2015.
Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication, SIU Edwardsville

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