Sheet metal workers face asbestos risk – study

Date: Apr 09, 2015

Sheet metal workers are an important part of the construction industry. Responsible for the installation of metal products such as ventilation systems and the fabrication of air conditioners, they are often working in confined spaces or operating in dark spaces.

However, up until now, their exposure to asbestos has been largely unknown. This was until the findings of a recent study from the US was released.

Published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Dr. Laura Welch and John Dement, Ph.D. reviewed the medical records of over 17,000 sheet metal workers who had worked in the industry for more than 20 years and participated in a respiratory screening program.

The researchers tracked causes of death between 1986 and 2010 within this group and what role asbestos played.

The findings

Much like Australia, the US has significantly reduced the use of asbestos material in the building industry. Couple this with the fact that sheet metal workers rarely handle asbestos directly and you’d think that this group wouldn’t be affected by the related diseases. However, the statistics suggest otherwise.

A total of 6,636 workers in the original group had died over the years and over 800 deaths were from lung cancer. As well as this, 404 had died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 85 of mesothelioma and 11 from malignant neoplasm of the pleural (an offset of mesothelioma).

In fact, sheet metal workers were calculated as being seven times more likely to die of an asbestos-related disease than the general US population.

Medical Director at the Center for Construction Research and Training in Silver Springs, Dr. Laura Welch explained that this highlights the danger that asbestos poses to all workers.

“The most important thing to take from this study is that you didn’t have to work with asbestos directly to be in danger,” she told

“All you had to do is be around it.”

Asbestos compensation claims in NSW

Under New South Wales law, you are entitled to claim compensation on many dust-related conditions including asbestosis and mesothelioma. The claim can be made irrelevant of the time of exposure, be it yesterday or even 30 years ago.

For more information, get in touch with the compensation lawyers at Gerard Malouf Partners today.

These lawyers operate on a no win no fee basis so they can advise you on your chances for success free of charge – if they think you have a case, it’s completely up to you whether you engage their services.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.