Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Many ageing steel workers finding themselves with work related health issues

I have had a long break from this blog due to personal issues and I am grateful to Eric Stevenson who contacted me recently and proposed that he do a guest article.
Below is the article by Eric and I hope you appreciate his efforts:

The steel industry has never been considered one of the safer industries to work in, as unions have always remained a necessity to protect the workers. While much of the safety risks that involve steel manufacturing involve physical wounds and harm, many retired and veteran steelworkers are finding that their time in the steel mill has led them to some major health issues.

As the steel industry became large in the 1900’s, the use of asbestos as a material continued to grow as well. Used diversely from products like clothing and most often in insulation and construction material, asbestos was most common in plants, mills, factories and shipyards. Praised for its versatility in usage and low cost, asbestos had to be considered one of the most popular building and construction materials throughout the world at one time.

In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, cases of mesothelioma and asbestosis began to hit a many workers from the World War II era, in factories, shipyards and military bases. These connections began to quickly become correlated with structures that contained asbestos and their workers. The long period of time in between diagnosis and original exposure involved mesothelioma and its long latency period. In most cases, symptoms will not develop for decades after original exposure and in some cases up to 50 years.

This long latency period makes current times absolutely crucial for many veteran and older workers in a number of industries, including steel manufacturing. The time of use between the 50’s and the 70’s was a time of major asbestos use. Given the multiple decade latency time between exposure and symptoms, the after effects of these health risks may begin to show themselves in the near future for many of these steel workers from the ladder half of the 20th century.

The health risk of mesothelioma is not one to be taken lightly. Mesothelioma life expectancy is only a year on average with a rather severe outlook for most patients. This has resulted in a number of compensation suits and battles between diagnosed workers and major businesses who continued use of the asbestos after it was shown to be dangerous.

Regardless, these asbestos related health risks remain a major problem for many older steel workers and retirees. Awareness is one of the most important things when it comes to learning about possible problems. Maintaining checkups and awareness will be important for these workers to provide themselves in the best possible treatment in the case that they are handed any of these problems





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