Vinyl Asbestos Tile
Up until the 1980s, many building products contained asbestos – a cancer-causing mineral unwittingly used for decades to strengthen and fireproof building materials, such as attic ceiling insulation or vinyl asbestos floor tile. Today, asbestos is condemned as a deadly carcinogen to be removed, according to law, by professional asbestos abatement contractors only. Asbestos is so toxic, it kills 90,000 people worldwide every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Client case: Vinyl asbestos tile installer
March 17, 2010 – When asbestos-made building products are new, health hazards are at a minimum. But when these products begin to wear over time or become damaged, minute asbestos fibers can dislodge and become airborne, creating a very serious health hazard for certain professionals, like floor tile installers who regularly work with old vinyl asbestos tile (VAT).
Vinyl asbestos tile contains up to 30 percent asbestos and is usually glued directly to the floor with an adhesive that contained asbestos, as well.
The most dangerous work phase for a vinyl asbestos tile installer is the cleanup. The mere chore of sweeping up dust and debris that fell off broken VAT products has been linked to the development of occupational asbestos diseases like mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.
Before laws were enacted to govern the handling of asbestos materials, linoleum and floor tile installers were for the most part unaware of this health threat – even going about their work without a respirator which is required today. In fact, the removal of old vinyl asbestos floor tile must now be conducted in accordance with strict government regulations.
The New York law firm of Weitz & Luxenberg specializes in asbestos-injury litigation and is known in the legal community for obtaining record-setting compensations for retired workers who have fallen ill from on-the-job asbestos exposure.
Vinyl asbestos tile worker with mesothelioma
In a recent case involving an asbestos tile and linoleum installer diagnosed with mesothelioma, the nitty-gritty details of the profession came out during his deposition hearings. Early in his career, before he became an engineer, he replaced damaged vinyl asbestos tiles for a building complex landlord every time a tenant moved out.
As he testified: “Where ever you had a bed or a big piece of furniture, there’d be quite a lot of tiles that were damaged. Dents, cracks, everything. The job of removing and replacing them was given to me and the maintenance crew,” he said.
“In the process of taking the old tiles up, they would break or there would be dust you had to clean up after you finished . . . When you were putting in new floor tile you had to sort of shape it, curve it a little bit, so it would fit in the hole and sometimes it would just break in your hands.”
Regular inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers can make for as a deadly exposure to asbestos. Though asbestos regulations require respirators today, respirators were rarely used before the 1970s.
Asked about his work activities in detail, our client worker testified: “You make sure the space where the old tile came out was perfectly clean so when you put the new tile in you didn’t get a profile on it or bumps. Then you’d put adhesive in that space.” (Before the 1980s, when he did this work, floor tile adhesives also contained asbestos.)
“One trick we used to do was put the box of tile in the oven for a few minutes so they were warm, so that when you laid the tile, it would settle in perfectly. Because if you tried to put it in cool or cold it would just crack or break.”
Weitz & Luxenberg last month sent a six-figure settlement check to this client from one of the case’s defendants, an asbestos product manufacture. The case is still pending against other defendant companies that knew of their products’ dangers, but failed to warn workers to take precautions.
Weitz & Luxenberg – The Workers’ Champion
Weitz & Luxenberg has protected the legal rights of workers for two decades. And in that time the firm’s mesothelioma lawyers have won several billion dollars in verdicts and settlements for asbestos-injured workers.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, and seek a free legal consultation, please notify us through the communication form above. We will pursue your claim with the vigilance we are known for. Please know, there is no cost to you until we obtain a settlement or a verdict in your favor.