Asbestos in Shipbuilding

Asbestos was unfortunately used regularly in shipbuilding right across the UK, from the North East down to the South Coast. The properties of asbestos as a resistant material against high temperatures and corrosion made it ideal for use in this sector. For these reasons, it was used to insulate different parts of the ship including boilers, steam pipes, hot water pipes and incinerators.

The use of asbestos on these parts of a ship would come at a price, with asbestos dust gathering around these areas and other poorly ventilated areas. This meant that people working on constructing ships were regularly exposed to high levels of asbestos dust and are potentially at a high risk of developing an asbestos related disease, like asbestosis or mesothelioma.

In the UK, the people most likely to have been exposed to asbestos in shipyards include anyone that worked in the sector up until the 1980s and anyone who served on a ship built before this time, as it is likely to have been loaded with asbestos containing materials. Ships that have undergone maintenance or repair work may also still release potentially deadly asbestos fibres into the air so anyone that has worked on this side of shipbuilding may also be at risk of developing an asbestos related disease.

Which shipyards in the UK used asbestos?

Shipyards in the UK that used asbestos include:

  • Southampton
  • Portsmouth
  • Tyneside
  • Liverpool
  • Barrow-in-Furness

Each of these locations, particularly Southampton and Portsmouth, have strong historical connections with the maritime and construction industries so there is a strong likelihood that people working here before the 1980s will have been exposed to asbestos.

If you would like any more information about asbestos or asbestos related diseases, please get in touch.