Emerson Vocational School was located at 1405 Sycamore Avenue in Buffalo, New York. The land for the school was acquired in 1926, and the school was originally established as the Peckham Vocational School until it changed its name to Emerson in 1937. For sixty-two years and before closing its doors in 1999, Emerson educated and trained high school students to become skilled tradesmen and mechanics. Since then, the building has been remodeled and renamed Harvey Austin Public School 97, an elementary school. Prior to the late 1970’s, asbestos was incorporated into a wide variety of equipment and materials that the students and teachers at Emerson utilized in their daily lesson plans. Exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
At Emerson, students were taught how to repair automobile and truck brakes. Students, teachers and auto mechanics were exposed to asbestos in brake linings and pads, clutch discs, mufflers, exhaust piping, sound proofing material and gaskets. Students and teachers typically performed a blowout, a process that uses compressed air to remove dust either caused by the removal of old brake linings, and/or during the installation of new linings. After the old brake linings were removed, they were replaced with new asbestos brake linings, which were typically ground on a bench grinder and/or hand sanded to ensure a proper fit against the brake drum. Both the blowout process and grinding and sanding emitted asbestos-containing dust that the students, teachers and auto mechanics inhaled.
Because the students at Emerson were trained to work in skilled trades and in various industries, graduates of the school went on to work in fields where they had a lifelong and continuous exposure to asbestos. In addition to those who were trained to work as auto and brake mechanics, many Emerson graduates moved on to work as electricians, plumbers, millwrights, pipefitters, welders and laborers. These trades worked with and around asbestos-containing insulating materials including, pipe covering, block insulation, cement and fireproofing. Electricians were exposed to asbestos-containing cables and wires, terminal blocks and boards and arc chutes. Welders regularly used asbestos blankets and gloves. Men who worked in the construction field were exposed to a host of various asbestos materials including, joint compound, fireproofing, transite, floor tile, thinset, acoustical ceiling tiles, roofing products and attic insulation.
Students and faculty were not the only individuals exposed to asbestos at Emerson Vocational School. The school’s maintenance staff and outside contractors repaired and maintained old mechanical equipment, which was covered in asbestos insulation. Boilers and associated piping used to heat the school were insulated with asbestos-containing block and pipe insulation. Asbestos packing and gaskets were used to maintain pumps, valves and steam traps. Plaster walls were repaired and replaced, involving the use of asbestos-containing joint compound. Asbestos floor and ceiling tiles were used throughout the school and had the tendency to crack or break. Due to normal wear and tear, these materials were removed and reapplied and, in the process, emitted dangerous levels of asbestos dust and fibers that contractors and maintenance personnel inhaled.
Our clients understand the importance of securing legal representation as soon as possible after a diagnosis of mesothelioma. Our attorneys have the combined experience of more than thirty years representing victims of mesothelioma. If you were once a laborer or maintenance employee who worked at the Emerson Vocational School in Buffalo, New York, and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.