Asbestos Exposure in South Carolina Shipyards (2024)

South Carolina has a significant number of shipyards along its coast. Throughout the mid-1930s to the late-1970s, these shipyards used asbestos for fireproofing, heatproofing, and corrosion protection in many materials and equipment used in ships. Many employees and military members suffered asbestos exposure in South Carolina shipyards. There was a high concentration of asbestos in shipyards, and employees were exposed constantly, resulting in significant long-term health impacts.

Many employers, manufacturers, and military officials were aware of the dangers and health hazards of asbestos, yet they continued to place employee and Navy personnel safety at significant risk. Asbestos was cheap and protected against fires, one of the most dangerous things on a ship. Commercial and military shipyards placed profit and short-term benefits over the immediate and long-term health of individuals.

Exposure to asbestos, particularly over a long period of time or after significant exposure, puts individuals at a higher risk of asbestosis, pleural disease, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Those living near these shipyards and the family members of employees and military members are also at significant risk of asbestos exposure.

Who in Shipyards Are at a High Risk of Asbestos Exposure?

Welders have the highest risk of asbestos exposure. These employees and military members work near high concentrations of asbestos materials, and welding blankets and gloves were often made of asbestos. This is in addition to the daily exposure in buildings and ships that other employees were also exposed to.

Categories of employees who are at a higher risk of asbestos exposure in Navy shipyards include:

  • Welders and ironworkers
  • Steel and cable riggers
  • Machinists and mechanics
  • Boilermakers and turbine workers
  • Carpenters and shipbuilders
  • Painters
  • Scaffold builders
  • Electricians, plumbers, and those servicing valves, pumps, and gaskets
  • Maintenance workers
  • Pipefitters and shopfitters
  • Insulation workers

When these employees and military members are diagnosed with severe asbestos-related illnesses, they can file claims against parties who negligently allowed the use of asbestos products in shipyards.

What Hazardous Asbestos Products Were Common in South Carolina Shipyards?

Many products during the 1900s were made with asbestos and asbestos-contaminated products. In shipyards, some of these dangerous products include:

  • Insulation and packing compounds
  • Welding asbestos blankets
  • Heat shields
  • Welding gloves
  • Floor and ceiling tiles
  • Roofing
  • Expansion joints
  • Gaskets
  • Pipe hanger covers
  • Fireproofing spray
  • Safety curtains
  • Firefighter uniforms
  • Electrical cables
  • Brake linings
  • Cement

The high concentration of asbestos products resulted in a high concentration of airborne asbestos fibers whenever products were damaged, broken, or otherwise released into the air.

South Carolina Shipyards and Asbestos Exposure

South Carolina’s coast allows for many shipyards. Unfortunately, this also increases the risk of asbestos exposure for employees in the state. Some of these shipyards include:

  • Braswell Services Group: This shipyard provided commercial and military shipbuilding services, employing thousands while doing so. Asbestos exposure occurred in all areas of ships throughout the 1900s and was furthered by poor ventilation.
  • Carolina Shipping Company: This was a freight and cargo transportation company that also had its own cargo ships. Dock workers and transport workers may have been exposed during their employment.
  • Charleston Naval Shipyard: A drydock, shipbuilding, and repair company for commercial and military ships. In World War II, there were nearly 26,000 employees at the shipyard. This shipyard caused significant asbestos exposure to military members, employees, and those living in the surrounding area.
  • Detyens Shipyards: This company was founded later than other shipyards on this list but prior to the significant regulation of asbestos, meaning that employees can still be at risk.

If you were employed at one of these shipyards and have since developed symptoms or been diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition, you could recover compensation. A skilled attorney can help you build a mesothelioma claim to support your medical treatment needs.


Q: Are Shipyard Workers Exposed to Asbestos?

A: Shipyard workers have a higher risk of asbestos exposure than many other forms of employment. Asbestos was used in ship construction, especially from the 1930s to the 1970s, in the equipment, products, and machinery on the ships. Employees who worked in shipyards and on ships during this time have a very high likelihood of exposure and a high risk of related illnesses. Some of these older ships are still used, and shipyard workers are exposed to asbestos during repairs and maintenance.

Q: What Is the Most Common Way That People Are Exposed to Asbestos?

A: Inhalation is the most common way that people are exposed to asbestos. Asbestos fibers can be released into the air when talc is mined, talcum powder is used, or asbestos products are damaged or broken. When these fibers are inhaled, they damage the tissue in the lungs.

When asbestos remains in solid materials, these fibers are unlikely to be released, and the risk of exposure is low. Asbestos exposure can also occur through significant dermal or skin exposure to solid materials with no personal protection.

Q: Do Most People Who Are Exposed to Large Amounts of Asbestos Get Mesothelioma?

A: Most people exposed to large amounts of asbestos do not get mesothelioma. Statistics show that, of those with significant and long-term exposure to asbestos, 8% to 13% develop mesothelioma. However, any level of asbestos exposure increases a person’s risk of developing mesothelioma, and the disease can take between 20 and 40 years to develop and show symptoms. Additionally, asbestos exposure does not only result in a higher risk of mesothelioma. It also increases the risk of lung cancer, asbestosis, and pleural diseases.

Q: What Percentage of People Who Are Exposed to Asbestos Get Ill?

A: Approximately 2% to 10% of people exposed to any level of asbestos develop an asbestos-related illness. These illnesses include lung cancer, mesothelioma, pleural diseases, and asbestosis.

The majority of these illnesses affect the lungs, and the most common form of mesothelioma is found in the lining of the lungs, although it can also be found in the abdomen and heart. There is no level of exposure to asbestos that is considered safe, and any exposure increases a person’s risk of these diseases.

Filing a Claim After Asbestos Exposure in South Carolina Shipyards

Wallace & Graham, P.A., has over 40 years of experience in mesothelioma claims between our attorneys. We have worked on shipyard mesothelioma cases and understand the evidence and documentation needed for a strong claim. Contact our firm today to see how we can help you file against negligent employers or manufacturers.