Owens Corning is one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of residential and commercial building materials. It was founded in 1938 and produces, primarily, glass fiber insulation. Compared to asbestos, this material is relatively harmless. In 1991, OSHA passed regulations labeling fiberglass a nuisance, but not a carcinogen. The Seattle Owens Corning plant is not innocent of working with asbestos, however. Because it produces commercial and industrial grade building materials, its plants frequently had to build materials to be used to insulate pipes and boilers in paper and saw mills, metal refineries, and even the Alaska Pipeline.
The Seattle Owens Corning plant had poor working conditions. Employees reported that work on a piece of equipment would finish, and moments later foremen would be wanting to test it – without any change in space or ventilation. Frequently, particulates, including asbestos at times, were thick enough in the air that visibility was significantly compromised. During the 1960s and 1970s, when work was being done on asbestos block hangers, working conditions may have reached their most dangerous levels. The combination of thick particulates in the air, the inclusion of asbestos, close quarters, a lack of protective equipment, and a rapid production rate may have done considerable damage to the lungs of those working there.
Moreover, thick airborne dust can be permeating. Not only does asbestos pose a risk to those working in the immediate environment. If asbestos fibers settle on clothing and are tracked into homes, workers could be putting their families at risk as well. In most cases, employees were not informed of this or any other risk. They were not offered protective equipment. They were denied the right to decide if they wanted to risk their lives for their company’s bottom line. It wasn’t until the late 70s and early 80s that asbestos protection really came to the forefront of these industries.
Basic ventilation and respiratory protection would have been enough to stop the majority of serious asbestos damage. When the particular fibers that make up asbestos are inhaled, they can burrow into the lung tissue. The body tries to eliminate the material, but its durability means that more collateral damage is done. When the tissues of the lungs replicate to replace damaged cells, frequent reproduction can cause mistakes in cell instructions. This is how lung cancer develops. In rare cases, those malignant cells make their way to the outer lining of the lungs. This is known as mesothelioma – a rare cancer that attacks the outer – not inner – lining of the lungs. It can quickly spread to other organs, making it difficult to treat.
If you or a loved one worked at the Owens Corning job site in Seattle and went on to develop mesothelioma, we can help you. We’re offering free consultations to those who are interested. Owens Corning has already made payments to asbestos victims. They chose to trade profit for employee health and they’re being held accountable for that decision. If you have any questions or comments about how we can represent you when it comes to the Seattle Owens Corning plant, or if you’re curious about our methods or past cases, please don’t hesitate to contact us.