Lead Exposure – Employees Sue Duluth-Superior Shipyard

Employees sue Superior Shipyard for lead poisoning

Among several other employees, James Holder, a welder and ship fabricator, is suing Fraser Shipyards for exposure to toxic levels of lead while working on the freighter Herbert C. Jackson earlier this year.

Matthew Sims, attorney for Holders, states that he anticipates multiple suits for cases of the same nature as Holders. Work was suspended on the 57 year old Jackson after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration responded to complaints from employees of the Fraser company.

Shipyard-quote“The defendants should had known about the dangers workers were exposed to from occupational related illnesses.” said the lawsuit. They also mentioned that the OSHA warned Fraser in 1993 of violations related to workers exposed to toxic agents. Later on, Holder was found to have lead poisoning. He suffered multiple health problems with pains that were akin to death pangs.

The lawsuit declares that during the earlier part of the year employees informed the defendants about the harsh conditions on the 125 year old shipping yard and the unusual illnesses contracted by workers on the Jackson. However, all complaints went unheard by both the defendants and the agents who also refused to investigate allegations about sickness and went at far as to falsely assure workers and the plaintiff that there was nothing to be concerned about.

When the Tribune News interviewed Interlake Steamship President Mark Barker about hiring Fraser Shipyards to complete re-powering work – a new project for Fraser after so many years – he stated, “It’s a risk going to a yard that hasn’t re-powered a boat in 30 years or more,” Barker said at the time. “But at the same time if you don’t put some of that risk out there and let them do it, how are they going to get better? It’s important for us as partners in the industry to grow and develop together. They’re doing a nice job, but there are definitely some learning curves.”

Recently, Fraser has been reduced to an outpost for maintenance and repair projects because of its age. Updated shipyards are presently chosen for high grade operations before it was selected for the Herbert C. Jackson project. The shipyard, and all other parties involved, have 21 days to answer to Holder’s lawsuit.