Steel Mills

Asbestos Risks in Steel Mills: Protecting Workers from High Temperatures

When working with metals, extremely high temperatures are vital to the entire process. Specifically, in steel mills, employees work with temperatures ranging from 842 degrees Fahrenheit to 2375 degrees Fahrenheit to create, mold, temper, cast, and weld various metals. Typical steel mill workers include welders, smelters, blacksmiths, foundry workers, forge men, ironworkers, tinsmiths, sheet metal workers, structural metal craftsmen, and more. Because of their proximity to such dangerous temperatures, workers require thermal protection to shelter them from the heat. The protective clothing, as well as the machinery they commonly worked on and around, consistently exposed workers to asbestos-containing products, parts, and materials.

Asbestos has been used abundantly in steel mill manufacturing processes as insulations and thermal protections for the better half of the 20th century. It was also used for heat-proofing certain equipment, including ovens, casting molds, blast stoves, furnaces, tanks, boilers, smelters, and welding torches. Heat-resistant protective items such as heat-resistant gloves, aprons, blankets, helmets, face masks, and chaps contained asbestos. Utilizing heat-resistant clothing creates one of the most direct exposure methods for steel mill workers. Additional asbestos-contaminated materials that metal workers may encounter include cement, bricks, piping insulation, heat-resistant coatings, and gaskets on machinery.

If you presently work or have worked in any of the below Michigan steel mills, you may have been exposed to or at risk of asbestos exposure:

  • Great Lakes Steel
  • Zug Island
  • McLouth
  • J&L Steel
  • Rouge Steel
  • And others

Products used by steel mills and its workers that may contain asbestos include but are not limited to:

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