All of the 150 operable oil refineries in the U.S. were built previous to the implementation of federal asbestos regulations. During the construction of these refineries, asbestos was used extensively and if you’ve worked at one of these oil refineries, there is a chance you’ve been subjected to asbestos exposure. Those who work in the oil industry are among those facing the highest risk of asbestos exposure.
Oil Refineries: A Dangerous Place to Work
The function of oil refineries is to refine and process crude oil into various petroleum products, including gasoline. Oil refinery jobs are and have always been dangerous since petroleum is highly flammable. For this reason the industry made wide use of asbestos as insulation. The protective gear issued by some oil companies were themselves the source of toxic asbestos. Asbestos fire suits made prior to the 1980s often exposed refinery workers to fibers if they became worn or damaged.
Unfortunately for oil refinery employees, asbestos becomes brittle over time, causing it to flake and turn into dust. Anyone inhaling this deadly dust over prolonged periods of time becomes extremely vulnerable to asbestos related diseases, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma cancer.
Examples of refinery equipment commonly insulated with asbestos include:
- Reactors Heat
Additionally, many concrete structures, mechanical parts, and a wide variety of tools and equipment found in an oil refinery would often contain asbestos.
Oil Refinery Workers Susceptible to Asbestos Exposure
Studies have shown that a much greater percentage of the oil refinery working population dies of illnesses, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma cancer, than the general population. This is because refinery workers were surrounded by asbestos containing materials at all times.
Any time these materials would be damaged, undergo repairs, ware down or renovated, they would release microscopic asbestos fibers into the air. If asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can remain inside a person for decades and cause asbestos diseases to develop. For oil workers, asbestos exposure was not known to be harmful until many years after they were exposed to the asbestos fibers.
Study of UK Oil Refinery Workers
A UK study of over 45,000 oil refinery and petroleum distribution workers showed just how vulnerable refinery workers are to the effects of asbestos exposure. All of the workers included in the petroleum workers, oil workers, asbestos exposure study had been employed for a minimum of twelve months between 1946 and 1971. The study noted that the refinery workers were in regular contact with asbestos containing materials while the petroleum distribution workers were not. It found that:
- The oil refinery workers had “significantly elevated” rates of mesothelioma
- The petroleum distribution workers showed no abnormal rates of cancers or other illnesses
Holding Oil Companies Accountable for Asbestos Exposure
Filing an asbestos lawsuit against a large oil company is no small task. This is because:
- Oil companies have the financial means and resources to turn the legal process into a long and arduous journey, typically doing so with the intent of wearing down those acting against them.
- The last twenty-five years have seen a drastic consolidation of the oil industry through mergers and acquisitions. This means that the company a plaintiff worked for back when the asbestos exposure took place is likely to have been taken over by another corporation a few times over.
Anyone who worked for an oil drilling contractor should realize that the company they worked for thirty to forty years ago has probably been absorbed by a larger oil company. For this reason, it is important to hire a law firm that specializes in asbestos litigation.
We provide oil workers asbestos exposure treatment options to ensure the comfort of these workers. We can also direct oil workers that have been exposed to asbestos to a local attorney or lawyer that specializes in asbestos cases. Those that were unknowingly exposed to harmful chemicals such as exposure in the workplace are often able to receive compensation to assist with their treatment costs and legal expenses. If you or a loved one worked in an oil refinery and have suffered the harmful effects of asbestos exposure, contact Mesothelioma Center today.