The health risks associated with working in the automotive industry were emphasized by a recent asbestos-related case in the United Kingdom. This case follows a previous suit involving Kelvin Parker, a former installer of insulation and suspended ceilings at the Longbridge manufacturing plant.
Parker, 54, was first diagnosed with mesothelioma in August 2007 and passed away on November 19, 2008. His family pursued legal action against the company responsible for his asbestos exposure.
Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma, a rare cancer that typically develops in the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen. In most cases, the victims are unaware of their condition until symptoms occur and the cancer has already reached the latest stages of development, leaving the patient with a poor prognosis.
The latest asbestos case involves another man who was a former employee at the Longbridge site in Birmingham, England during the early 1960s.
This employee is seeking damages for developing malignant mesothelioma and is looking for witnesses who may have worked at the site around the same time. The man’s lawyer said, “We have got a client who was exposed to asbestos dust and we are looking for witnesses. But this issue isn’t one that’s particular to one person. There could be hundreds of other people who are at risk.”
Asbestos has been utilized for decades by the automotive industry in products like brake pads and linings, clutch facings, valves and gaskets. Vehicles manufactured today are still built with asbestos brakes and clutches, just in smaller quantities than older parts.
Microscopic asbestos fibers that have been disturbed have the potential to stay in the air for a long period of time. The long duration of airborne asbestos fibers not only creates an immediate hazard, but increases the danger of workers inhaling the toxic particles even several days afterward.
Automotive mechanics are one of the main occupations still affected by asbestos exposure. Working on cars that contain older parts creates a constant risk and protective gear is rarely worn to prevent exposure.