Oshawa has historically been known as a blue collar region – and this should be a source of pride. This is a city of hard workers who have helped provide valuable goods and services to not just Oshawa and Ontario, but all of Canada. And as the “Automotive Capital of Canada,” Oshawa has long been home to General Motors Canada which has kept its headquarters here for decades.
In its heyday, General Motors employed tens of thousands of workers and even though it’s experienced setbacks, it is still the largest local employer in Oshawa. While this is great to keep the people of Oshawa employed, the automotive industry has long been known for its association with asbestos that can be deadly to its workers.
What Are the Asbestos Risks for Oshawa Auto Workers?
Large industrial buildings such as the ten million square foot factory that houses much of GM’s Oshawa assembly operations are typically always constructed with asbestos materials in the walls, ceilings and fixtures. Drop ceilings in older buildings are often fitted with asbestos ceiling tiles. When the building is perfectly intact and the asbestos is not exposed, the risks are minimized. But when there is damage and walls are crumbling or tiles broken, asbestos can leach out and expose workers.
But that’s not the main source of concern. What is more problematic is that many of the components that vehicles had been constructed with were laden with asbestos. For decades, GM bought parts from firms that heavily used asbestos such as BorgWarner. If there are adequate safety procedures in place, asbestos can be safely worked with. But for too many years, inadequate or no warnings were given and safety equipment not provided to workers – or inadequate safety equipment and ventilation were offered. Long after industries knew of the dangers, they did not take steps to properly protect their employees, choosing profits before people!
Some of the parts used on GM plants that contained asbestos included:
- Brake linings
- Clutch facings
- Electrical parts
- Automatic transmissions
- Clutch linings
- Disc brakes
- Drum brakes
- Manual transmissions
What Are Other Industries in Oshawa at Risk for Asbestos Exposure?
It’s not just auto and truck assembly workers that were at risk for asbestos exposure. Workers in Oshawa’s rail yards and at the airport could have been exposed to life-threatening asbestos while on the job. Here are some professions that were at risk for asbestos exposure in Oshawa over the past decades:
- Auto mechanics and auto parts salespeople
- Warehouse employees
- Boiler workers
- Factory workers and machinists
- Train operators
- Brakemen on rail lines
- Locomotive engineers and train conductors
- Locomotive boiler and engine room workers
- Plumbers and pipefitters
- Construction and drywall workers
- Sheet metal workers and machinists
- Plant and maintenance workers
- Boilermakers and welders
- Carpenters and electricians
- Tile installers and roofers
- Firefighters and rescue workers
- Military and Coast Guard
Other notable work facilities in Oshawa that were censured for employee health and safety issues include Ontario Malleable Iron Company (closed in 1977) and Fittings Limited (closed in 1989). Workers at either of these facilities worked in the presence of asbestos and may be at-risk for mesothelioma.
It’s Not Just Workers That Were Exposed to Asbestos
It’s bad enough that Oshawa’s hardest working have been exposed to asbestos, but what’s also concerning is that if you worked in an industry that exposed you to asbestos, you may have brought home the toxic fibers and exposed your family as well. Our law firm recently won a significant settlement for the wife of a tile installer who was exposed from fibers brought home on her husband’s work clothes.
Family hugs or laundering work clothes and uniforms was enough to expose family members. Decades in a job with asbestos exposure means years of risk for your family. In the case we just settled, the husband himself so far has not developed mesothelioma, but his wife has. It’s hard to know who will develop this rare cancer. But it’s important to know if you or a loved one are diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s likely caused by asbestos and may be traceable to your job or that of your spouse, parent, sibling or anyone you lived and interacted with while they worked in a high-risk industry.
How Long Is It From Asbestos Exposure to Disease Diagnosis?
Asbestos is unique among industrial contaminants in that it doesn’t seem like an immediate danger. Unlike noxious fumes or other risks that will make you sick right away, asbestos damage can lie dormant for decades. It will usually be 20 years – at the soonest – before any disease symptoms emerge. What’s more common is a gestation period of 30-50 years from exposure to disease diagnosis. You can be long retired or no longer working in an at-risk industry when you get sick with an asbestos-related illness.
Asbestos is the most aggressive of the asbestos-caused illnesses and can crop up within 20 years of exposure. But mesothelioma can go undetected for much longer and strikes most people when they’re older and are just beginning their retirement. It’s important to contact a reputable attorney who has experience with mesothelioma claims as soon as possible after your diagnosis. Pursuing a financial settlement against the parties responsible for your asbestos disease can provide a financial cushion that you will need to treat your illness or to leave a financial bequest to your family.
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s statistically likely that it was caused by asbestos exposure and the illness asbestos is only caused by asbestos exposure. Even if the employer or company responsible for your asbestos exposure is out of business or bankrupt, we may be able to recover a settlement for you for the damage done to your health.
In order to pursue a claim, the key is to discover how you were exposed and who is ultimately responsible – this is where our experience and expertise benefits you. Because Bergman Draper Oslund only handles mesothelioma cases, we have compiled extensive research about job sites and exposure– in Oshawa, nearby Toronto, Greater Ontario and all of Canada.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos is or asbestos related lung cancer, contact us as soon as possible to get your claim started. We have a track record of winning significant settlements for our clients and are ready to help you. We have won over $700 million in asbestos exposure damages for people just like you. Our expertise is yours for the asking. We are here to help. Contact us today.