Norton Laboratories, Inc., also known as Norton Labs, was founded in 1916 by Charles Norton and William R. Seigle on Mill Street in Lockport, NY. The Lockport, New York, plant initially consisted of seven buildings, including a factory, boiler room, factory office, front office, machine shop and two warehouses. Norton Labs originally manufactured metallic magnesium during World War I and later expanded its product line to include molded plastic handles for pots and pans, camera parts, automotive parts and circuit boards. In 1958, Norton Labs was acquired by Auburn Plastics, which was based in Auburn, New York. The company operated as a division under Auburn Plastics and continued to manufacture its products under the Norton Labs name. In 1971, Norton Labs moved its plant to a single building located across the street from its former site. In 1981, Norton Labs closed.
Individuals who worked at Norton Labs in Lockport have recently developed and died of mesothelioma as a result of their exposure to asbestos. Up until the late 1970s, asbestos could be found as a component of high heat temperature, raw, plastic materials. Norton Labs incorporated raw asbestos fibers into its phenolic resins used in manufacturing parts for a variety of companies, including General Electric, Harrison Radiator and Kodak. Additionally, asbestos was incorporated into insulating materials that lined pipes and boilers at Norton Labs. Exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Individuals who worked in the pre-form department along with molders, finishers and maintenance personnel, were exposed to asbestos during the manufacturing process of plastic parts while working at Norton Labs. Those who worked in the pre-form department at Norton Labs were exposed to asbestos when they dumped bags and barrels of asbestos-containing plastic molding compound into a hopper, where the material was pressurized and weighed. Opening and dumping these bags and barrels of compound created a cloud of dust, which the workers inhaled. Molders were also exposed to asbestos dust and fibers while pressing preformed molded compounds into plastic parts. After the molding compound was pressed and had time to harden and cure, molders removed the newly formed pieces and placed them in a tray or barrel, which was then sent to the finishing department. Before the next batch of plastic compound entered a hydraulic press, the molder used an air hose to blow out any remaining dust and debris from the mold. This was done to protect the integrity of the next product. This process was repeated every time the press was emptied, and it created asbestos dust in the breathing zone of the molders.
Steam was vital in the production process at Norton Labs. Steam was also used to heat buildings throughout the plant. Asbestos-containing pipe covering covered steam lines at Norton Labs. Due to wear and tear, it was common for asbestos-containing materials to be removed and reapplied. Once the worn insulation was removed, reapplication of asbestos insulation was necessary so that the pipes could effectively contain steam. During insulation reapplication, asbestos pipe covering was cut with a band saw and cement was mixed with water. Both processes created large clouds of asbestos dust. Most workers were completely unaware of the dangers of exposure to the asbestos dust, and performed their work without masks or protective gear.
The attorneys at Lipsitz & Ponterio, LLC have gathered a vast amount of information concerning the type and variety of asbestos-containing products at Norton Laboratories, Inc. Our clients understand the importance of securing legal representation as soon as possible after a diagnosis of mesothelioma or lung cancer. If you or a loved one were once employed at Norton Labs and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.