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Accidents & Injuries

Asbestos risk remains for former Northwest employees

Airplane mechanics
After its founding in 1926, Northwest Airlines played a large role in Minnesota’s history for more than 80 years. It was one of the leading airlines at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, as well as one of Minnesota’s leading employers.

As one of the largest employers in the state, it is critical that workers are aware of the hazards they faced during their tenure with the company.

Northwest workplaces exposed workers to asbestos

According to Minnesota Public Radio’s coverage of the 2008 merger with Delta Airlines:

  • Northwest employed nearly 20,000 people before 2000
  • They maintained roughly 12,000 employees until the merger

Several of these workers, particularly aircraft maintenance technicians and mechanics, faced the danger of asbestos exposure.

There are several locations identified to have put workers at risk of asbestos exposure – including the 7th Street Track Hangar and 7th Street Team Track in Minneapolis. However, there could very well have been more locations under Northwest’s control that placed workers at risk.

Where was asbestos found?

It seems that asbestos was nearly everywhere mechanics worked, including:

  • The aircraft’s and hangar’s insulation
  • Brakes, valves and gaskets
  • Electrical wiring
  • Blankets aboard the aircraft

Asbestos was also commonly found in the equipment mechanics used to maintain and repair the aircraft.

Unfortunately, Northwest Airlines was not even close to the only airline that put workers at a high risk of asbestos exposure.

Can workers still take legal action?

If workers develop mesothelioma from occupational asbestos exposure, they can take legal action against their former employer to recover compensation. But what if this employer no longer exists? Many Minnesotans who worked for Northwest Airlines share the same worry: can they recover compensation even though Northwest merged with Delta in 2008?

The answer is yes. It is a common myth that workers cannot take legal action if the company no longer exists. Companies who merge or acquire another usually take on the liability those companies held. Former Northwest employees can still take action against the company Northwest merged with to obtain the financial compensation they deserve.

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