This case involves a ship worker who worked in the shipping industry for 7 years. The worker started working on board ships as a helper removing valves from engine and boiler rooms to be reconditioned. When he was removing the valves, he had to remove insulation that created lots of dust. The worker eventually became a specialist on overhauling valves. His job involved removing old insulation from the valves and putting new wicking and rope packing in the valves. Both of these jobs created lots of asbestos dust. The worker did not know about asbestos but noticed that the rope was “dry, white and powdery.” When the worker cut the rope, it produced a lot of dust. The worker regularly breathed the dust and it remained all over his clothes and his hands. The rope that the worker used contained a maximum asbestos percentage of 90%. The worker later began experiencing shortness of breath and was diagnosed with mesothelioma. The worker was later told by his doctor that his cancer was terminal. The worker sued the manufacturer of the asbestos rope for causing his disease.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. How could asbestos rope that is used by a ship worker cause mesothelioma?
Expert Witness Response
Asbestos rope was commonly used by ship workers because it was light in weight and was very fire-resistant. This type of rope was previously used as rope packing around valves, pumps and boiler doors. One common type of asbestos rope that was used by ship workers had a lot of asbestos dust. The danger from this type of rope comes when the rope is damaged. Usually, ship workers might have to cut the rope to make it fit around something. When asbestos rope is cut, asbestos fibers are released into the air and can be inhaled by the worker using it. In general, the higher the amount of asbestos in the rope, the more dangerous the rope is to a worker who is using it. In this case, since the worker was able to actually see the dust cloud of asbestos that came from the rope, this means that there were billions of asbestos fibers that he was exposed to. Since the worker was not wearing protective clothing, inhaling these fibers most likely caused his cancer. The manufacturer of the asbestos rope should have made sure that workers who regularly handled the rope knew about the dangers of asbestos and wore a disposable mask while they were working. The workers should have also been required to wear disposable overalls to protect them from the asbestos dust.