Asbestos and Railroad Workers: Do You Know the Risks?

April 5, 2016  |  Mesothelioma

Recently, three former BNSF Railway employees sued the company and its predecessors, claiming they developed lung disease due to their work-related exposure to asbestos. These men claimed they worked both with and around items that contained asbestos while employed by the company for decades.

Yet, like so many other men Baron & Budd represents, these men had no idea that their lives were being put in danger while they were working with and around asbestos. Their asbestos lawsuit accuses BNSF of negligence and failure to provide a safe place to work.

In particular, the men and women who worked with trains powered by steam engines — steam being the most popular form of energy to power trains until the 1950’s — may have an increased risk of exposure to asbestos. Because steam creates a large amount of heat, asbestos was often used as an insulator to protect the train from this high heat. As we have discussed before, asbestos was often used as in inexpensive yet highly flame-resistant insulator. This asbestos-based insulation was used in the train’s fireboxes and boilers. In addition, Johns-Manville Therma Wrap, a common pipe insulation, often contained asbestos. As if that’s not enough, asbestos may also have been used in the train’s gaskets, a sealing cement used to seal pipe joints and valves, brake linings, rope, floor tiles and clutches.

Unfortunately, railroad workers who worked both in and around steam trains or other train repair shops were commonly required to perform work that exposed them to dangerous asbestos fibers. Because asbestos is extremely dangerous when it is airborne, it is these workers who are at particular risk for asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma later on in life. In particular, dangerous exposure may have occurred when railroad workers were required to handle parts that were insulated with asbestos – jobs such as sanding sealing cement laden with asbestos or working with the rope that was laden with asbestos. Because of the sheer amount of products that contained asbestos on trains, and the reality that these products were used and worked with perhaps around the clock, therefore creating dangerous “mists” of asbestos, anyone who worked in the railroad industry could be at risk for asbestos-related disease.

Even once steam engines began to be replaced by diesel engines in the 1950s, asbestos continued to be used as insulation in countless trains. It was not until the 1970s when asbestos was finally no longer used in trains.

Baron & Budd has represented men and women who were exposed to asbestos in a variety of industries and developed mesothelioma or asbestos-related disease as a result. For more information, contact our mesothelioma lawyers at 855-280-7664.

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