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Occupational Asbestos Exposure

Occupational asbestos exposure has caused mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases for construction workers, military service members, and other areas of the workforce. Our asbestos attorneys at Bergman Oslund Udo Little are committed to helping workers and others exposed to the hazardous substance get fair compensation for the medical costs and other damages they suffered due to exposure to harmful materials in the workplace.

Asbestos was widely used in shipbuilding, construction, and other industries until the 1970s, despite the health risks identified by researchers decades earlier. Asbestos stays in the lungs and other organs, and over time, sometimes decades, people exposed develop asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other diseases. 

People in certain occupations were at higher risk for asbestos exposure, especially those who worked with the material in confined spaces or over long periods. The asbestos lawyers at Bergman Oslund Udo Little help mesothelioma and other asbestos-related disease victims collect compensation for the negligent actions of manufacturers and others who ignored asbestos hazards. 

Asbestos Exposure in the Workplace

Asbestos is durable and fire-resistant, making it a good insulator. Asbestos products were inexpensive to manufacture, and in the early 1900s, they became widely used in construction, shipbuilding, and other industries. This widespread use put workers at risk of exposure to asbestos and future health problems. 

Health experts warned of the dangers of high levels of asbestos as early as the 1920s, and by the 1950s, the association between asbestos, cancer, and mesothelioma was firmly established. However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the use of asbestos slowed, and the government started strictly regulating its use.  

Asbestos’ resilience is why it poses a health hazard. When the material is moved, cut, or otherwise disturbed, its microscopic fibers are released into the air, where they can be inhaled or ingested. Because the human body cannot break down the fibers, when they reach the lungs and other organs, they stay there and accumulate. The fibers become embedded in the tissue, causing inflammation and disease. It takes decades after exposure for victims to show symptoms of illness. Asbestos exposure is the only proven cause of mesothelioma.

Jobs Most At Risk of Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos was so widely used that people in certain occupations were commonly exposed. The asbestos industry knew about the dangers these workers faced but put them in harm’s way anyway.

Industrial Workers

Asbestos was a common component in many products such as insulation, machinery, pipes, and wiring,, leading to high levels of exposure for manufacturing and power plant workers, welders, pipefitters, boilermakers, millwrights, insulators,  ironworkers, and people in other industrial occupations. 

Between 1940 and 1979, an estimated 27 million workers were exposed to harmful asbestos fibers in the air. Many of those exposed were in industrial areas where asbestos-bearing materials were damaged, releasing dangerous fibers.


Asbestos was a common component in brakes, gaskets, clutches, and other parts, putting automobile and aircraft mechanics at risk of exposure. Manufacturers used asbestos because of its resistance to heat and ability to hold up under friction.  

Workers were exposed to asbestos during installation and repairs, particularly when performing tasks such as grinding down disc brakes. The grinding, often in close quarters, released asbestos dust.

Construction Workers

Asbestos was used extensively in construction materials, including flooring, ceilings, pipe and boiler insulation, plaster, and fireproofing. Workers were exposed when buildings went up and during decades of demolition and remodeling. Roofers, insulators, demolition workers, and drywallers are just some of the construction industry workers who face and continue to face asbestos exposure

If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos while working construction and now battle mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, contact Bergman Oslund Udo Little to speak with an experienced asbestos lawyer in Oregon.

Military & First Responders

First responders and Military service members faced several sources of asbestos exposure. It was widely used in protective gear due to its fire-retardant properties. It was also commonly used in military ships, planes, and other vehicles. First responders, especially firefighters, also face asbestos exposure due to the release of fibers from damaged buildings.  

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes asbestos exposure as compensable for military members exposed during service who later developed an asbestos-related disease. It recommends testing for several occupations such as carpentry, demolition, milling, and shipyard work or for exposure to flooring, roofing, pipes, insulation, or vehicle friction products. 

Navy personnel faced a particularly high risk, as they were often onboard ships containing asbestos products for long periods in confined quarters where work was performed on piping and machinery.

Shipyard & Rail Yard Workers

Asbestos materials were used on ships primarily to help prevent fires. It insulated steam and other pipes, incinerators, and boilers. These components on ships tend to be in small areas with little circulating air, putting shipyard workers, longshoremen, and ship disposal workers called shipbreakers at risk of asbestos exposure in shipyards

Railroad workers experienced asbestos exposure from equipment, insulation, locomotive parts, and floor tiles. Workers who repaired train parts or were in areas in rail yards where asbestos escaped damaged materials were at risk of breathing in asbestos fibers. 

If you or a family member were exposed to asbestos due to shipyard or rail yard work and later developed an asbestos-related disease, contact Bergman Oslund Udo Little for experienced asbestos lawyers in Washington.

Pulp & Paper Mill Workers

Paper mills were a prominent industry in the Pacific Northwest throughout the 20th century. These paper mills frequently used asbestos in equipment and building materials. Additionally, asbestos was often contained in the paper they processed. 

Several mills, including St. Regis and Weyerhaeuser, were situated in timber-rich areas like Cowlitz County. Many older mills still harbor asbestos remnants. As a result, workers and those in proximity have faced prolonged exposure over the years.

Is Asbestos Exposure at Work Still A Risk?

It is a common misconception that asbestos is banned in the United States. The ban only covers specific uses and products. While asbestos hasn’t been produced domestically since 2002, at least 100 tons of asbestos are imported yearly. 

Asbestos remains present in older buildings and products such as classic car parts, and some workers still have occupational exposure from handling asbestos. First responders and cleanup workers from the World Trade Center are now showing higher rates of mesothelioma and other diseases due to exposure decades ago.

How Are Workers Protected From Asbestos Exposure?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has taken several steps to regulate asbestos and help reduce the rate of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses. 

It has implemented national asbestos standards covering general industry, shipyards, and construction. These standards cover permissible exposure limits, mandatory workplace assessments, exposure monitoring, personal protective equipment, and other workplace-related asbestos standards. 

The Environmental Protection Agency is also working to protect people from asbestos exposure, including introducing an outright ban on its manufacture and import. 

Our asbestos lawyers at Bergman Oslund Udo Little are well-versed in the dangers of asbestos at job sites in the Pacific Northwest and are ready to help. 

Why Choose Bergman Oslund Udo Little?

Our asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys have been zealous advocates for families affected by workplace asbestos exposure in Oregon and Washington since 1995. We are a small firm with a narrow focus, but we have the legal experience and resources to take on large suppliers, manufacturers, contractors, and building owners that used asbestos despite the known risks.  

Our case results include over $1 billion in settlements and verdicts for our clients. We secured $11.2 million for a man diagnosed with mesothelioma at 75 after a history of exposure at the Port Industrial Yard of Tacoma. We also obtained $6.8 million for a woman diagnosed with mesothelioma at 37 following asbestos exposure from her father’s work at Pacific Northwest Bell. 

The National Trial Lawyers’ Top 100 and Super Lawyers have recognized our lawyers for their expertise in asbestos cases. Our commitment to holding corporations responsible for putting profits over people is unwavering, and we treat every client with the respect and compassion they deserve.

One of the unique things about Bergman Oslund Udo Little is our deep knowledge of the asbestos occupations and job sites in the Pacific Northwest. If we don’t already have what we need, we will employ investigators to visit job sites to take photos and videos, and if possible, we interview those workers who were there decades ago when the exposure may have occurred.

Vanessa Firnhaber Oslund – Partner, Bergman Oslund Udo Little, PLLC

If You Were Exposed to Asbestos on the Job, We Can Help

If you developed an asbestos-related illness from exposure at work or after a loved one inadvertently brought asbestos home, you are entitled to compensation. Our occupational asbestos lawyers have decades of combined experience fighting asbestos manufacturers and suppliers. We have a proven track record of obtaining compensation for our clients’ medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. 

If you need help, contact Bergman Oslund Udo Little for a free mesothelioma case review.

Seattle Office
520 Pike St. #1125
Seattle, WA 98101
Portland Office
1355 NW Everett St.
Suite 100
Portland, OR 97204
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Representing Asbestos and Mesothelioma Clients Throughout the Northwest.
Seattle Office

520 Pike St.
Seattle, WA 98101

Portland Office

1355 NW Everett St.
Suite 100
Portland, OR 97204

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