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Global Automotive Technology Giant Sets Aside $411M for Future Asbestos Claims

Automotive technology giant BorgWarner, Inc. has set aside $411 million for future asbestos claims. Upon announcing the one-time asbestos-related charge, BorgWarner recorded a net loss of $293 million.

According to a report by Crain’s Detroit Business, the Michigan-based manufacturer said the $411 million figure was "based on an undiscounted estimate of indemnity and defense costs that may be incurred at one of the company's subsidiaries on account of pending and potential future asbestos-related claims that may be asserted for the next 50 years."

So far, the company has been named in a “significant number of lawsuits each year alleging injury related to exposure to asbestos in certain historical products,” reports Crain’s. According to BW, the company no longer manufactures, distributes, or sells products that contain asbestos. However, because of the long latency period for diseases such as mesothelioma, workers that handled these historical products years ago could develop this asbestos-related condition decades after exposure. Unfortunately, there is no cure for mesothelioma.

Asbestos and the Automotive Industry

Asbestos has been used for decades in the automotive industry. Although some companies claim that they no longer use asbestos in their products, it is still legal to use asbestos in manufacturing automatic transmission components, clutch facings, friction materials, disk brake pads, drum brake linings, brake blocks, and gaskets. This means, exposure could occur whether a mechanic is working on an older car or a new one. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) warns that mechanics should assume that all brakes have asbestos-type shoes.

The OSHA also cautions that worn non-asbestos-type brakes cannot be readily distinguished from asbestos-type shoes. If a mechanic assumes incorrectly that a shoe is a non-asbestos type and fails to utilize brake dust control procedures, increased asbestos exposure may result.

To protect both commercial and home mechanics, the OSHA has established certain safety regulations that must be followed. In addition to putting workers’ health at risk, companies risk fines and lawsuits for non-compliance. To review the OSHA’s Current Best Practices for Preventing Asbestos Exposure Among Brake and Clutch Repair Workers for details, go to EPA.gov.

If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor right away. Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, early detection could lead to better treatment options and outcomes.

 

Sources

BorgWarner. BorgWarner, Inc., 2018. Web. 23 Apr. 2018.

"Current Best Practices for Preventing Asbestos Exposure Among Brake and Clutch Repair Workers." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 21 Dec. 2016. Web. 23 Apr. 2018.

"U.S. Federal Bans on Asbestos." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 19 Dec. 2016. Web. 23 Apr. 2018.

Walsworth, Jack. "BorgWarner Records $411 Million Charge to Fight Asbestos Claims." Crain's Detroit Business. Crain Communications, Inc., 10 Feb. 2017. Web. 23 Apr. 2018.