Ingersoll-Rand has had a long and successful history, which began in 1871 when Simon Ingersoll developed a rock drilling operation. In 1905 his company merged with Rand Drill Company to form what is now known as Ingersoll-Rand. Since that time, the company has grown mostly through the acquisition of other firms and expanding into additional sectors of the manufacturing industry.
Today, Ingersoll-Rand employs about 60,000 people worldwide and their products carry well-known brand names such as Club Car, Trane, Schlage and Thermo King. What was once a rock drilling equipment manufacturer now produces heavy equipment loaders, backhoes, refrigeration, cooling units, golf carts, and industrial style locks.
The company is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, however it has been incorporated as a Bermuda company since 2002 to avoid high corporate taxes. Recent transactions and acquisitions involving Ingersoll-Rand include the 2004 sale of the Drilling Solutions business to Atlas Copco, the 2007 sale of all road construction equipment development to Volvo, and the 2007 purchase of Trane HVAC, which became part of Ingersoll-Rand’s Climate Control Technologies business. Today the company has a North American headquarters in Davidson, North Carolina, and an Asian headquarters in Shanghai, People’s Republic of China.
Because of its growth as a supplier of specialty drilling equipment and its subsequent development of refrigeration components and locking mechanisms, Ingersoll-Rand has had an extensive shipping service to its many customers for many decades. For most of those years, asbestos was used as a packing material in these shipments. These included braided asbestos for the packing of valves, fibrous packing material for pistons, gaskets, and steam pumps, and graphite asbestos as packing filler in boxes containing centrifugal pump materials used by well drilling firms.
These asbestos fibers that easily broke off and became suspended in the air, were often inhaled by workers packing these materials and often became trapped in clothing and shoes. In the 1970s, Ingersoll-Rand was only one of a huge number of companies alerted by the United States and other governments about the new research into asbestos and its affect on people’s health. They were primarily alerted because of the fact that asbestos acts much like a carcinogen when it comes into contact with humans. It is now known that mesothelioma and other cancerous afflictions are caused by a long term exposure to asbestos.
Ingersoll-Rand not only used asbestos in its packing materials, but also in the insulation of many products used at job sites. Pipes, electrical panels, and other items that could be subject to fire from extreme heat were often protected with asbestos coverings. Currently, the company has paid over $300 million in settlements where asbestos exposure inflicted former employees, and legal action is still ongoing with a large number of claimants.