Industrial Workers: Asbestos Product Manufacturing
All Industrial workers in industries where asbestos fiber was incorporated into the company’s products, such as manufacturers of insulation, roofing, building materials, etc., prior to adequate safety controls were at risk of developing asbestos disease. This includes those not in direct contact with production such as secretaries and executives in adjoining offices, and spouses and family members of workers who wore asbestos laden work clothes home unaware that it could pose a risk. People at risk of asbestos exposure include industrial workers, shipyard laborers, roofers and others.
Workers involved in the operation and maintenance of utility powerhouses, and other facilities and equipment of electric and gas utilities were exposed to asbestos products. Utility powerhouses in particular involved miles of steam piping which was insulated with asbestos products, as well as boilers many stories high which, together with feedwater heaters, pumps, conveyors, condensers, turbine-generators, and auxiliary equipment, were also assembled with and insulated with asbestos products. Everyone working in such facilities risked significant asbestos exposure because of ongoing repairs, maintenance, overhaul, and conversion, not to mention being present during the construction of new units. The asbestos dust and fiber from the asbestos products used to insulate, assemble, seal, and line all this piping and equipment was readily carried through the plant by drafts, convection created by the hot equipment, and the fact that only metal grating and not solid flooring separated the elevations of these huge structures. Utility workers involved in maintenance of sub-stations, underground cable and steam lines also risked exposure to asbestos products.
Industrial Shipyard Workers
People who worked in shipyards during World War II or in the post-war years were at risk of asbestos exposure. The new construction, overhaul, and repair of Navy, Merchant and other ships caused friable asbestos products to be present in the confined spaces, and engine and boiler rooms of ships resulting in asbestos exposure to all trades working in these areas.
Construction & Building Trades
Union members and retirees of many trades encountered hazardous asbestos products in doing their work, as well as the asbestos products being used by other trades working nearby, during the construction, renovation, and repair of various industrial, commercial, military, education, governmental, and other job sites. Mechanical systems, including piping, duct work and equipment, were assembled with, sealed with and/or insulated with asbestos products. Structural steel and decking were fireproofed and sound proofed with asbestos sprays. Components of walls, roofing, electrical wiring and flooring contained asbestos through the 1970’s and, in some cases, even later.
Maintenance Workers & Non-Union Crafts | Auto and Truck Brake & Clutch Mechanics
Those who made a career of servicing auto and/or truck brakes and clutches may have been exposed to sufficient asbestos dust to cause disease.
Residential, industrial and Commercial Plumbing & Heating Contractors and Oil Burner Service
Mechanics who worked for, or operated a plumbing and heating contract or jobbing business, or worked in oil burner installation and service, may have had considerable asbestos exposure, even if the work was mostly residential. Residential boilers, furnaces, and hot water heaters, installed up through the 1970’s were often assembled, sealed, and/or insulated with asbestos products as was the attendant piping.
Industrial trades at Risk:
Plumbers & Pipefitters
Masons & Bricklayers
Carpenters & Joiners
People At Risk of Exposure To Asbestos | Industrial Workers
Heat & Frost Insulators & Asbestos Workers Union
Bricklayer and Allied Craftworkers / BAC
Steamfitters and Pipefitters
Workers at Refineries, Chemical Plants, Pharmaceutical, Food, and Beverage Plants
These industries often utilize high temperature/high pressure processes and required lots of steam and process pipelines, which in and prior to the 1970’s meant piping, vessels, tanks, reactors, heat exchangers, boilers, roasters, ovens, driers, furnaces, pumps and other equipment insulated, assembled, and/or sealed with asbestos products. Those involved in maintenance, repair, construction, and turnaround of the production units risked exposure to asbestos products, as well as workers in the vicinity of these operations.
Union Members at Risk:
Chemical & Atomic Workers/OCAW
Independent Chemical Workers Union GMP
United Steel Workers
Workers in Metal Refining Operations, Foundries, and Steel Mills
In addition to the insulated pipelines, boilers and similar equipment common to heavy industry, industrial workers in metal refineries, foundries, and steel mills may have been exposed to the high temperature refractory linings of furnaces, smelters, launders, ladles, and similar equipment, some of which were composed of asbestos products, which were frequently in need of replacement and repair. In addition, asbestos gloves, leggings, and aprons were worn by workers near molten metals. Asbestos cloth and blankets were used to moderate the cooling of metal castings. If you are in need of a top mesothelioma lawsuit attorney contact us.
Industrial workers are among the groups at significant risk of exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals that were widely used in various industries for their insulating and fire-resistant properties. However, prolonged exposure to asbestos can lead to serious health problems, including asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
Here are some reasons why industrial workers are at risk of asbestos exposure:
- Occupational Use: Asbestos was commonly used in various industrial settings, including construction, shipbuilding, automotive manufacturing, and the production of asbestos-containing products such as insulation materials, cement, and textiles.
- Asbestos Contaminated Workplaces: Many older industrial facilities and buildings constructed before asbestos regulations were enforced may still contain asbestos materials. When these materials deteriorate or are disturbed during renovation or demolition work, asbestos fibers can become airborne, putting workers at risk.
- Lack of Awareness: In the past, the dangers of asbestos exposure were not well understood, and workers were often not provided with proper protective equipment or training. Even today, in some parts of the world, awareness and safety standards regarding asbestos may not be adequately enforced.
- High-Risk Occupations: Certain industrial job roles are at a higher risk of asbestos exposure, including insulation installers, plumbers, pipefitters, electricians, maintenance workers, and boiler operators, among others.
To reduce the risk of asbestos exposure for industrial workers, employers and workers should take the following precautions:
- Asbestos Surveys: Conduct asbestos surveys and assessments in older industrial buildings to identify and manage asbestos-containing materials.
- Training: Provide comprehensive training to industrial workers on asbestos hazards, safe work practices, and the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Protective Equipment: Ensure that workers are provided with and consistently use appropriate PPE, including respirators and disposable coveralls.
- Safe Handling: Follow strict protocols for the safe handling, removal, and disposal of asbestos-containing materials.
- Regulatory Compliance: Comply with local, national, and international regulations and standards related to asbestos management and worker safety.
- Regular Monitoring: Implement a system for regular monitoring and health surveillance of workers exposed to asbestos to detect any health issues early.
- Encourage Reporting: Encourage workers to report any potential asbestos exposure incidents or unsafe conditions in the workplace.
It’s crucial for both employers and employees in industrial settings to be aware of the risks associated with asbestos and to take proactive steps to protect themselves from exposure. Additionally, legislative measures have been put in place in many countries to regulate asbestos use and protect workers from its harmful effects.