Go to Top
   Mesothelioma Help Center
Helping Mesothelioma - Asbestos Families for 21 Years!
Call Toll Free: 800.291.0963

Mesothelioma Articles 1025


Mesothelioma Dictionary of Legal & Medical Terms
We Help Patients Find Legal Representation
Mesothelioma Help Center

Home | Mesothelioma Lawyer | Just Diagnosed? | Have a Question? |About Us | Contact Us

Mesothelioma Help Center - Mesothelioma Articles 1025

Mesothelioma Lawyer - Article - WORKED TO DEATH

Posted on Jan 29, 2006 | Chicagotribune.com


To make a decent living, workers have often ignored personal safety

By Karen Ann Cullotta, a freelance writer and journalism teacher at Roosevelt University

Published January 29, 2006

When my father's blue Chevy station wagon entered the cul-de-sac of my childhood at the end of the day, our kitchen table was already set for supper. Stepping onto the driveway, a powdery veil of pale dust clinging to his work clothes, my father would remind me that a daughter's hug would have to wait.

"I'm dirty," he'd explain. "Let me change first."

Before we sat down to eat, my father would take a quick shower while my mother would shake asbestos dust--the detritus of my father's profession--from his clothes. Ever vigilant, my mother would presoak dad's dirty work clothes in the laundry tub before tossing the bundle in the washing machine.

I am an asbestos worker's daughter.

And while my father is long retired from his beloved trade, he and many of his best friends from the union hall share a sad truth they seldom speak of: lung abnormalities resulting from years of asbestos exposure.

"When we found out asbestos was bad, even after it was banned in the '70s, nobody quit," my father explained. "It was a way to make a good living."

When it comes to hazardous jobs, be it coal mining, forestry or construction, the opportunity to "make a good living" often upstages the specter of death by occupation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a total of 5,703 fatal work injuries were recorded in the U.S. in 2004. As collected by the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, the report shows construction as having the most fatal work injuries of any industry sector with 1,224, followed by transportation and warehousing with 829, and agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting with 659.

The 2004 report finds that overall, 91 percent of fatal work injuries involved workers in private industry, with 9 percent of cases being federal, state and local government workers; for example, about 105 firefighters die each year in the line of duty.

Now, following the West Virginia mine disasters, in which a total of 14 miners died in less than a month, legislators are launching emergency investigations and vowing to enhance state and federal safety measures for the mining industry. Meanwhile, grieving families who have just buried their loved ones will face the grim task of watching their husbands, sons and daughters, fathers and grandfathers head back to work, plying their trade within the inscrutable face of a mine.

In the past few weeks, many have spoken eloquently about the culture of miners, of the intergenerational ties that bind a community to an industry that is inherently dangerous yet nonetheless an economic engine carrying legions of families to a better place.

Such was the case for my family, where after attending high school in the 1950s, my father and two uncles married, got their union cards and joined the ranks of Chicago 's asbestos workers. The three families would add up to 13 children and almost 140 years of marriage and counting. For the next two decades, my father and uncles would spend their days on job sites throughout the city--the Prudential Building , the Art Institute, the Merchandise Mart--swaddling pipes with asbestos, a seemingly miraculous product used for insulation until it was banned in the early 1970s.

Thus the insulators would learn that they were no longer "asbestos workers" but "asbestos removers." Recently, my father reluctantly discussed with me this chapter of my family history. The quintessential storyteller, my father is left searching for words when asbestos exposure is the subject.

"For years, a lot of the guys were getting sick, but even the medical community didn't know enough about asbestos," he said.

Asbestos was eventually deemed deadly, and even non-smokers like my father were diagnosed with lung abnormalities such as bilateral thickening of the pleura, scarring and, in the worst cases, mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer.

Unlike the West Virginia miners who died recently in the Sago disaster, victims of progressive illnesses such as asbestosis and black lung disease are not counted by the annual national census of fatal occupational injuries, although officials estimate the number of deaths stemming from on-the-job hazardous exposure and injury could be more than 1.3 million per year.

"We used to all sit down and eat our bag lunches, and there would be asbestos dust blowing all over the place," my father recalled quietly, more betrayed than bitter. "Insulators and miners ... we're no different than doctors or lawyers; it's just a different avenue of life we fell into."

I conclude our "interview," and my father is relieved that he can rise from my dining room table, refresh his cup of coffee and resume playing with his rambunctious 5-year-old granddaughter, who is soon swept up in a big hug, just like I was not so many years ago.

Contact an Experienced Mesothelioma Lawyer

If you would like to talk with an experienced Mesothelioma lawyer to understand and protect your legal rights, please tell us about your Mesothelioma Case. Our Mesothelioma lawyers have an extensive record in Mesothelioma cases and will help you evaluate your case.

There is NO COST or obligation for this service

We help with you file Mesothelioma and Asbestos-related claims in each state

Call us toll free at 800.291.0963 or use quick contact form located at the right of this page and we will contact you within 24 hours.

Mesothelioma Attorney
Contact Form

Free Mesothelioma Case Evaluation
Do You Have a Case?

Call us Toll Free at 800.291.0963 and talk to a live Mesothelioma case counselor.
We will walk you the process of getting connected with a Mesothelioma Lawyer.

Tell us About Your Case:

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State: *
Zip Code: *
Phone: *
Date of Birth:
Date of Diagnosis:
Have you been diagnosed with Mesothelioma? *
Do you have a relative Diagnosed with Mesothelioma? *
Do you have a Pathology Report? *
Married: *
Number of Children:
Are you working with an Attorney? *
What state(s) were you exposed?
Case Description: *

By filling out this free consultation form you NOT forming an attorney client relationship. You can only retain an attorney by entering into a fee agreement and that by submitting this form you not entering into a fee agreement. This form is just a request for legal advice. Any information that you will receive in response to the above question is general information and you will NOT be charged for the response to this e-mail question.
Mesothelioma Symptoms

The most common Mesothelioma symptoms are the following:

Recent onset of shortness of breath (31%)
Recent increase in shortness of breath (30%)
Chest pain (43%)
Read More

Copyright © 2004-2020. MESOTHELIOMAHELPCENTER.ORG. All Rights Reserved.

Mesothelioma Lawyer