Trussbilt (Vadnais Heights)

Based out of Vadnais Heights, Minnesota, Trussbilt produces metal security products. The company currently has eight decades of experience behind it. Using innovative fabrication and design techniques, the company has been improving the safety of prisons and jails.

Products designed and built by Trussbilt can be found in all fifty states of the U.S. and in seventeen other countries. They are widely considered to be at the top of their industry. Products offered by the company are designed to provide protection from threats such as weather, intruders, explosions, and even terrorists. Some of the products include metal doors and frames, wire frame mesh, prison furniture, and secure ceilings and walls.

One of their signature products is the TrussWall, a steel wall panel that can be used as an alternative to a concrete cell wall. The product is made using galvanized steel. Since the walls are only two inches thick, compared to eight inches of concrete for comparable strength, it is possible to reduce the weight and cost of security based projects.

Unfortunately, the production methods used by Trussbilt have proven to pose health risks.  In order to galvanize steel, rendering it resistant to rust, the metal must be dipped in molten zinc, protecting the steel and producing a spangled appearance on the surface.  However, zinc, when it is at the required temperature for the galvanization process, give off toxic fumes which, when inhaled, can induce a condition called metal fume fever.  Sometimes called the “zinc shakes,” this condition produces flu-like symptoms, burning sensations, shortness of breath, vomiting, and convulsions.

While metal fume fever usually goes away in a few days after the worker is removed from the source of the fumes, another air pollutant in metal works factories like Trussbilt had far more lasting consequences.  Because of the high temperatures required to process steel, equipment insulation and protective clothing were necessary to protect the machines and workers, but in the early and mid-20th century, these items often contained asbestos.  Though Trussbilt has eliminated the presence of asbestos in their plants, some workers are just now experiencing symptoms of mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that can nearly always be linked back to exposure to the toxic substance.