The Sisters of Mercy, an order of Catholic nuns, founded Mercy Hospital in 1904. Located on Abbott Street in South Buffalo, it is one of Western New York’s largest and busiest hospitals. As demand for Mercy Hospital’s services have increased throughout the years, the hospital has completed numerous expansions and renovations. Prior to federal regulations placed on asbestos in the late 1970s, asbestos could be found as a component of insulation and building materials, including joint compound (mud), pipe covering and fireproofing materials. These materials were used during construction of Mercy Hospital. Workers who handled materials that contained asbestos or worked in the vicinity of others who did are at high risk for developing an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma.
Fireproof insulation was applied to the structural steel at Mercy Hospital in order to protect the steel from fire damage and high heat temperatures. Asbestos was incorporated into fireproofing because of its fire resistant qualities and relatively low cost. Fireproof insulation was manufactured as a dry mix, which was typically packaged in one hundred pound bags. Raw fireproofing material was dumped into a machine, mixed with water and sprayed onto steel surfaces with a hose. During the mixing and application processes, an enormous amount of asbestos-containing dust and fibers were emitted into the work area. Laborers who worked in the vicinity of the application of fireproofing may have also inhaled asbestos dust and fibers. Additionally, tradesmen, such as pipefitters, electricians, ironworkers and carpenters routinely disturbed the fireproofing after it was installed in order to install pipes, conduits, wall framing, ventilation ducts and other building materials.
Asbestos-containing pipe covering, mastic, cement, and floor and ceiling tiles were also used during the initial construction and renovations at Mercy Hospital. Laborers and tradesmen hired to apply, remove or work in the vicinity of asbestos-containing building materials may have been exposed to asbestos dust. Inhaling dust and particles from the application and maintenance of asbestos-containing materials placed workers at risk of developing serious health problems. Even those who were not in direct contact with asbestos materials remain at risk for the development of asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Many union and non-union laborers who worked on construction projects for Mercy Hospital were employed by various contractors throughout Western New York. If you or a loved one were once employed in connection with the construction of Mercy Hospital and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.