Bethlehem Steel Shipyard Asbestos Exposure
Bethlehem Steel Shipyard Asbestos Exposure
Bethlehem steel shipyard asbestos exposure was common during the 20th century. The Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation was once one of the largest shipyard companies in the United States. This company, also known as BethShip, was considered to be the nation’s most profitable shipyard company during its busiest times in the midst of World War II. Similarly to many shipyards in the past, BethShip has depended on asbestos for many years – putting many of its previous employers at high risks of developing serious asbestos-related diseases.
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History of Bethlehem Steel Shipbuilding Division
In 1905, with sights set on the shipbuilding industry, the mighty Bethlehem Steel Corporation, located in Bethlehem Pennsylvania purchased its first shipyard; the Union Iron Works in San Francisco. Thus, forming the Bethlehem Steel Shipbuilding Division.
By 1913, another shipyard was purchased, the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy Massachusetts. Quincy soon became the headquarters for the newly incorporated Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation Limited or BethShip which was incorporated in 1917.
Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation Asbestos Exposure Locations
During World War II the shipbuilding industry boomed. BethShip, which was becoming one of the largest and most profitable shipyards in the United States, went on to acquire more than 15 shipyards across the country, including:
- Bethlehem Wilmington (Wilmington, DE.)
- Union Iron Works (San Francisco, CA.)
- Hunter’s Point Dry Docks (San Francisco, CA.)
- Fore River Shipyard (Quincy, MA.)
- Bethlehem Sparrows Point Shipyard (Sparrows Point, MD.)
- Alameda Works Shipyard (Alameda, CA.)
- Bethlehem Elizabethport (Elizabethport, NJ)
- Bethlehem Mariners Harbor (Staten Island, NY)
- Bethlehem Southwest Marine Terminal Shipyard (San Pedro, CA)
- Victory Plant Shipyard (Quincy, MA.)
- Bethlehem Hingham Shipyard (Hingham, MA)
- Bethlehem Fairfield Shipyard (Baltimore, MD)
- Bethlehem Atlantic Works (Boston, MA)
- Bethlehem Brooklyn Shipyard (Brooklyn, NY)
- Hoboken Shipyard (Hoboken, NJ)
- Bayonne Naval Drydock (Bayonne, NJ)
- Bethlehem Pennsylvania Shipyards (Beaumont, TX)
Production slowed following World War II but then increased somewhat during the Korean War in the 1950s. In 1997, BethShip ended its shipbuilding activity to fully concentrate on steel production.
Asbestos Utilization at Bethlehem Steel Shipyard
Asbestos was fire resistant and resistant to corrosion. These qualities seemingly, made it the idyllic material for ship construction. As a result, asbestos was incorporated into almost all aspects of ship construction from the 1940s through the 1970s.
Roybestos cloth was a form of asbestos fabric, this as well as asbestos wrapping, which was used for insulation were kept in the yard storeroom. Large rolls were provided and cut as needed. Dangerous dust and fibers were continually released into the storeroom air.
Welders, burners, and others regularly used Roybestos cloth as blankets to shield themselves from the heat. Some workers were given clothing made of Roybestos and told to wear them for protection. Smaller pieces were cut and used by workers in the engine room, pump room and boiler room. Many workers used the pieces to grasp hot objects or to kneel on while working on the hot steel deck.
Asbestos insulation was used to insulate incinerators, boilers, pipes, and hulls. It was also used in the cement, gaskets, and valves all over the ships. Workers regularly installed and handled asbestos insulation. Roybestos cloth was even used to patch holes in work clothes.
Products containing asbestos were also brought in and installed by outside contractors.
As a result, every shipyard worker was put at risk of asbestos exposure. Workers included but not limited to:
- Boiler workers
- Engine room mechanics
- Maintenance mechanics
- Pipe coverers
- Sheet metal workers
Due to the confined nature of the ships, exposure risks were everywhere and often from multiple sources. Individuals who worked in small enclosed spaces such as engine and boiler rooms had even greater exposure. This excessive exposure has led to high occurrences of asbestos-related diseases in its workers.
Workers unknowingly brought home the dangerous fibers on their clothes, hair, and skin putting their loved ones at risk of secondary exposure.
Ignored Safety Standards at Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation
In 1943, asbestos safety guidelines were created by the United States Navy and presented to BethShip. Unfortunately, these safety guidelines were ignored and never implemented. BethShip continued to use excessive amounts of asbestos with no regulation or safety measures. Areas with high levels of asbestos were never properly ventilated and workers were never provided with respirators.
If you or a loved one worked at any of the locations of Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or an asbestos-related disease – contact GPWLaw MI today as you may be entitled to mesothelioma compensation.