The roots of Erie Forge and Steel Company located at West 16th and Greengarden Boulevard in Erie, Pennsylvania, can be traced back to 1903, when the company operated as a small forge and machine shop known as the Erie Forge Company. In 1912, the company was officially named Erie Forge and Steel Company. At the beginning of World War I, Erie Forge and Steel Company entered into an agreement with the United States Navy to manufacture gun forgings and destroyer shafts. The agreement allowed the Navy to construct a much larger plant on the property.  The Navy broke ground in November 1917, and the first heat of steel was poured in May 1918.  The plant remained property of the Navy until August 1920, when it was purchased by the Erie Forge and Steel Company.  In the years that followed, the steel plant grew rapidly and employed approximately 1,600 workers during its peak years.  The National Forge Company acquired the plant in the late 1960s and used the plant to manufacture new and refurbished propulsion shafts for U.S. Navy ships and submarines. In 1989, the company was sold to National Forge employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and the company was renamed Erie Forge and Steel, Inc. Today, Erie Forge and Steel, Inc. operates as a subsidiary of WHEMCO, Inc., and it employs approximately 70 people.

Prior to the late 1970s, dozens of asbestos-containing materials were installed and removed at steel plants throughout the United States. Inhaling dust and particles from the application and removal of asbestos materials placed workers at risk for developing mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Similar to many other steel plants, laborers at Erie Forge and Steel used hot tops during the steel-making process.  A hot top is a cast iron device located on the top of a steel mold, and it traps impurities that rise out of the steel as the ingot cools and solidifies. In order to protect the hot top from damage, the interior of the hot top is lined with refractory materials. Prior to the late 1970s, asbestos was used as a refractory material because of its ability to withstand high temperatures. The hot tops used at Erie Forge and Steel were lined with either brick and asbestos-containing mortar or asbestos insulating boards.

Asbestos insulating boards were primarily manufactured by Ferro Engineering and Foseco Inc. The number of boards placed inside a hot top depended on the size of the mold, which ranged in size from one foot to ten feet wide. Even the act of handling an asbestos insulating board emitted asbestos fibers into the air. After each ingot or steel mold was cast, the asbestos insulating boards inside the hot top turned to ash and required replacement. Laborers used an air hose to remove the asbestos-containing ash from the hot top. This action created a cloud of asbestos-containing dust, which was inhaled by laborers working on the hot top and anyone else in the surrounding vicinity.

If you or a loved one worked at Erie Forge and Steel in Erie, Pennsylvania, you may have been exposed to asbestos and could be at risk for developing mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease. Even those who were not in direct contact with hot tops or asbestos materials remain at risk. If you or a loved one worked at Erie Forge and Steel and have since been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, please contact us to discuss your legal rights.