Ohio-based Lincoln Electric serves the welding industry, manufacturing tools, safety equipment, and accessories. Lincoln Electric used asbestos in products for years, causing mesothelioma in some workers Lincoln never had to file for bankruptcy or start an asbestos trust despite numerous lawsuits.
Lincoln Electric History and Asbestos
Lincoln Electric was founded in 1895 by an electric motor designer named John Lincoln. He started a motor sales business with just $200. Lincoln’s brother also joined the company, which expanded to offer welding sets and battery chargers for automobiles.
- Lincoln Electric was the first company to provide a portable welding machine with a variable voltage that one person could operate. This was an important innovation in welding and industrial manufacturing.
- Early in its history, Lincoln Electric initiated unique management and employee policies. These included piecework pay and an Employee Advisory Board, which is still in operation today.
- In 1915, employees at Lincoln Electric were offered group life insurance, an unusual benefit for the time period. In the 1950s, the company implemented a policy that prohibited anyone who had been with the company for at least two years from being laid off. Harvard Business School has extensively studied Lincoln Electric’s business model because of these innovative policies.
- Initially, Lincoln Electric focused primarily on welding equipment, gear, and supplies. During World War II, Lincoln provided more welding equipment to the military than any other company.
- During the war, Lincoln also contracted to make repairs on Navy ships.
- Unfortunately, Lincoln Electric used asbestos in products it provided to the Navy and other workplaces. This put workers and veterans at risk of exposure and later illness.
- Lincoln Electric has faced numerous asbestos lawsuits. It has not filed for bankruptcy or started an asbestos trust fund.
Today, the company is based in Euclid, Ohio, and sells products and services to the welding industry. Lincoln Electric makes welders, arc welders, torches, wire and arc feeders, electrodes, fume control solutions, stick welders, welding guns, plasma cutters, accessories, and many more.
Industries that buy Lincoln’s gear include automotive, nuclear energy, offshore drilling, power generation, pipelines, liquid natural gas, wind energy, thermal energy, and shipbuilding, amount others.
How Did Lincoln Electric Use Asbestos?
All the company’s welding products have been asbestos-free since 1981. Lincoln Electric manufactured welding rods with as much as 15% asbestos for decades.
Welders use welding rods to join two metal components. Rods are surrounded by a material called flux that prevents the oxidation of the metal. For many years this material contained asbestos because it added strength and protected welders from fire.
Jobs at Risk for Asbestos Exposure from Lincoln Electric Welding Rods
Years of asbestos use in these welding rods potentially exposed thousands of workers to harmful asbestos fibers. Though asbestos protected workers from heat, tiny asbestos fibers could come loose to float in the air.
Once these fibers become airborne, anyone in the area can inhale them. Asbestos fibers are harmful because they can become lodged in body tissue, causing extensive damage over time. Some people exposed to asbestos will eventually develop lung cancer, mesothelioma, or asbestosis.
Workers who made these welding rods risked harmful asbestos exposure on the job, as did people working with them in other industries.
Some of the workers that risked exposure to asbestos in Lincoln Electric products include:
- Shipyard workers
- U.S. Navy veterans
- Factory and industrial workers
- Power plant workers
- Oil refineries
- Railroad workers
- Steel mill workers
Workers in many other industries that used these welding rods also put themselves and others around them at risk of asbestos exposure.
Asbestos and Mesothelioma Lawsuits Against Lincoln Electric
For decades, Lincoln Electric’s welding rods contained asbestos. Because of this, many workers in a range of industries were affected. Some of those who got sick sued Lincoln Electric and other companies. These workers claimed the companies that manufactured products with asbestos did not warn them of the potential risks.
- In 2003, two former Lincoln Electric employees, Daniel Tucker and Angel Gomez, filed a lawsuit. One of these employees developed mesothelioma, and another developed lung cancer. The jury decided Lincoln Electric was responsible and ordered it to pay the men over $6 million. Unfortunately, both men passed away before they could benefit from the verdict.
- James Nelson worked in steel plants from the 1970s through the early 2000s. He worked with and around Lincoln Electric welding rods and died from mesothelioma in 2009. He also worked with other companies’ asbestos products. His estate sued numerous companies liable for his exposure. A jury awarded $14.5 million in 2010. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the verdict.
- John Donoughe worked for Penn Central Railroad repairing air brakes. He used Lincoln Electric welding rods and asbestos products made by other companies. In 2001, Donoughe was diagnosed with lung cancer, which he attributed to workplace asbestos exposure. He received a jury award of nearly $400,000, which stood up on appeal.
Lincoln Electric has spent years defending against similar lawsuits and has avoided bankruptcy. Because Lincoln Electric did not file for bankruptcy protection, the company did not have to establish an asbestos trust.
What to Do if You Were Exposed to Lincoln Electric Asbestos Products
If you believe Lincoln Electric is liable for your asbestos illness, rely on a lawyer experienced in asbestos and mesothelioma cases to help you through the process.
A lawyer will provide a free case evaluation. They can investigate your exposure and determine which companies can be held liable. They will give you options for seeking damages and help you file a lawsuit if you decide to proceed.Get Your FREE Mesothelioma Packet
Page Written by Mary Ellen Ellis
Mary Ellen Ellis has been the head writer for Mesothelioma.net since 2016. With hundreds of mesothelioma and asbestos articles to her credit, she is one of the most experienced writers on these topics. Her degrees and background in science and education help her explain complicated medical topics for a wider audience. Mary Ellen takes pride in providing her readers with the critical information they need following a diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness.
Page Edited by Patient Advocate Dave Foster
Dave has been a mesothelioma Patient Advocate for over 10 years. He consistently attends all major national and international mesothelioma meetings. In doing so, he is able to stay on top of the latest treatments, clinical trials, and research results. He also personally meets with mesothelioma patients and their families and connects them with the best medical specialists and legal representatives available.