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Asbestos Exposure at Shipyards

Asbestos in shipyards is, unfortunately, common. You may be entitled to compensation if you’ve been exposed to asbestos at a Pacific Northwest shipyard and suffer from mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis. Bergman Oslund Udo Little helps victims and their families pursue justice and compensation for asbestos exposure.

Asbestos is all too common at Washington and Oregon shipyards. An estimated 3.5 million workers in the U.S. have been exposed to shipyard asbestos. Washington has the largest shipyard on the West Coast, and Oregon has a rich shipbuilding history. Thus, many workers throughout the Pacific Northwest have been at particular risk of exposure, with notable hotbeds like the Todd Shipyards, the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and the Swan Island Shipyards.

Asbestos is durable, fireproof, and heat-resistant, so it has been widely used in shipyards since the 1920s. Builders thought the substance could make products safer and last longer. A range of equipment, including ship piping and safety equipment, includes the dangerous substance.

While asbestos is no longer commonly used in shipyards, many workers still face the consequences of the material’s widespread use today. Exposure to asbestos in shipyards puts workers at risk of developing mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. You may be eligible for compensation if you were exposed to asbestos at a shipyard and have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease.

The Bergman Oslund Udo Little team is here to help you through your case and give you more information about asbestos. Talk to our team to learn more.

Asbestos Products Used in Shipyards

The shipbuilding process once incorporated asbestos in many different processes and products. Its heat resistance and durability made it a popular component in equipment used on seagoing vessels. It could hold up against extreme weather conditions or exposure to the elements.

Common places in ships and shipyards where asbestos can be found include the following equipment and building materials:

  • Gaskets
  • Insulation
  • Packing materials
  • Roofing
  • Flooring
  • Interior cables
  • Paneling
  • Piping
  • Boilers
  • Valves
  • Adhesives

Asbestos becomes dangerous when the material is disturbed or disrupted. This releases the material’s microscopic fibers into the air. Workers may inhale or ingest the tiny fibers, which can become lodged in the tissue surrounding organs in the chest and abdomen. Workers are typically most at risk t when components containing asbestos are installed or removed.

Manufacturers of asbestos-containing products knew for decades about the dangers of asbestos but continued to use it. Thus, many workers were exposed to the toxic substance and have developed asbestos-related illnesses.

Under the laws of Washington and Oregon, manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos products can be held liable for workers’ asbestos-related illnesses. Shipyards such as Todd and Lockheed can be held responsible for failing to warn workers and implement asbestos controls. However, one of the biggest challenges is identifying the manufacturers of the asbestos products to which a victim was exposed. 

Since 1995, Bergman Oslund Udo Little has helped those exposed to asbestos seek justice and get the compensation they deserve. We have detailed product identification information for hundreds of job sites in Washington and Oregon, including shipyards throughout the Pacific Northwest. 

Even if you do not know the manufacturers of the asbestos products you worked around, we can probably identify some of the products you may have been exposed to based on the job sites where you worked.

Learn more about liability for your asbestos-related diagnosis by contacting us for a free asbestos case review.

Health Risks of Asbestos Exposure for Shipyard Workers

Asbestos can cause many different health issues. The substance contains small fibers that inflame and aggravate the tissue surrounding bodily organs. As the tissue stiffens, it may cause symptoms such as breathing difficulties.

Some common illnesses caused by asbestos exposure include the following:


Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive cancer associated with tumors that develop in the tissue surrounding the lungs, the stomach, or other organs. Patients typically experience shortness of breath, chest pain, and cough. The only known cause is asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma has a latency period of 10 to 60 years or more. The latency period is the time between the initial asbestos exposure and diagnosis. Thus, most workers don’t know they have been exposed to asbestos until decades later.


Another disease caused by asbestos fibers is asbestosis, a fibrosis of the lung tissue that develops when fibers are inhaled and become lodged in the tissue. Lung function becomes impaired, and the victim may experience coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, or clubbing of the fingers.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer has also been linked to asbestos exposure. Cancer usually develops at least 10 years after the worker is exposed. The risk of lung cancer increases for workers who smoke.

Larynx Cancer

The risk of developing larynx cancer increases by 40 percent if someone is exposed to asbestos. This rare disease develops after asbestos particles enter the body and pass through the larynx as they make their way to the lungs. The risk is heightened by smoking and drinking.

Talk to an asbestos lawyer in Washington to learn more about the health conditions caused by asbestos.

Shipyard Workers and Mesothelioma

Unlike the other diseases associated with asbestos, mesothelioma is thought to be caused solely by asbestos exposure. Asbestos fibers aren’t easily broken down by the body—partly because of their durable nature—and can withstand fire and extreme heat. 

When you inhale these fibers, they irritate a thin tissue lining the organs known as the mesothelium. Pleural mesothelioma is associated with the thin tissue in the lungs and is the most common type of the disease. Typically, imaging tests and biopsies are used to diagnose mesothelioma. 

Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma may include the following:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Lumps in the chest

Treatment options may be radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or surgery.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should talk to a meso lawyer in Seattle or Portland as soon as possible. The attorneys at Bergman Oslund Udo Little are ready to help you understand your legal options. Talk to an asbestos lawyer in Oregon today.

Legal Compensation for Shipyard Workers Exposed to Asbestos

When you or a family member has developed a disease related to asbestos exposure, it is extremely important to take legal action. Manufacturers, suppliers, contractors, or premises owners may be at fault for your exposure. 

Pursue the compensation you deserve by working with the team at Bergman Oslund Udo Little. We work with asbestos and mesothelioma clients throughout the Pacific Northwest, ensuring the best outcome possible for victims of asbestos-related disease.

Our past case results speak to our expertise and commitment:

  • $8.3 million to a 79-year-old man diagnosed with mesothelioma: Our client was exposed to asbestos as an electrician in the United States Navy and at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington.
  • $4.9 million to a 62-year-old man diagnosed with mesothelioma: Our client was exposed to asbestos when his father worked as a pipefitter at Todd and Lockheed Shipyards and carried asbestos home on his clothing and person.
  • $4.25 million jury verdict for an 81-year-old electrician and his wife: Our client was exposed to asbestos insulation while working at Seattle shipyards in the 1960s and 1970s in King County, Washington. He and his wife won compensation in their case against an asbestos product distributor.

Our law firm has won over $1 billion in verdicts and settlements for clients exposed to asbestos and eventually diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease. Asbestos law is all we do.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, or cancer because of asbestos exposure at a shipyard, you don’t have to face these challenges alone. Bergman Oslund Udo Little will provide a free mesothelioma consultation. Our expert asbestos lawyers will help you understand your legal options and the best way to proceed with your case.

Get a free case review today.

Contact The Firm

Representing asbestos and mesothelioma clients throughout the Northwest.

1355 NW Everett St.
Suite 100
Portland, OR 97204

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