Lockheed Shipyard was founded in 1989 as the Puget Sound Bridge & Dredge Company. Lockheed purchased the yard in 1959. Operations were permanently halted in 1988. The company produced a wide range of ships – working on both luxury vessels, ferries, industrial craft, and United States Navy boats. Government contracts included icebreakers for the US Coast Guard, submarines, and a number of landing platform dockships.
Asbestos exposure at Lockheed Shipyard was widespread. The tight working spaces and tighter job schedules meant that tradesmen of all varieties were working in unison, frequently inhaling the dust produced by their combined labor. That dust undoubtedly contained asbestos. Mitigating exposure took second place to getting the jobs finished on time – a clear sacrifice of safety for efficiency.
Employees of Lockheed were not educated on the danger of asbestos, nor were they offered protective equipment. In both labor practice – the scheduling and overlap of work – and preventative measures, Lockheed failed to respect the health and well-being of its employees. In some cases, these included Union members contracted to do flooring or other installations – people who never would have been exposed to asbestos without working at the Lockheed site.
Limiting space increases the intensity of exposure dramatically. The inner decks of ships under construction also have poor ventilation. Asbestos fibers that make it into the lungs can cause significant damage. Because they’re very hard to eliminate, they can remain in the lungs for years, developing into serious illness long after the fact. While trying to eliminate the contaminant, the body can make mistakes in its cell reproduction, leading to a buildup of malignant, cancerous cells. This can rapidly become serious lung cancer, or worse. Mesothelioma is a cancer that afflicts the outer lining of the lungs and other internal organs. It is nearly untreatable. Mesothelioma is strongly linked to asbestos exposure, little else. It is also quite painful.
A single piece of equipment can provided serious protection against asbestos. A respirator can prevent the fibers from every making it into the lungs. Such a simple provision could have saved lives. There were none available. Even so, protective neglect isn’t the only problem. With work environments thick with asbestos particles, if safety measures aren’t taken before employees return home, they risk carrying deadly materials into their households. Not only were workers left in the dark about their personal risk, the danger to their families was never adequately explained.
We represent asbestos victims and their families. If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma, whether or not they have worked at the Lockheed Shipyard, we may be able to provide you with direction. We’re committed to finding justice for those who were neglected and lied to by their employers. Asbestos affects more than the individuals who get sick – families also suffer its ill effects. We will do what we can to make this difficult situation less stressful for all involved. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us.