Thursday, January 25, 2007

Dangerous Jobs

Asbestos diseases are said to follow the trail of exposure. That means that wherever people have received asbestos exposure, regardless of their trade, age, sex or race, they are at risk of cancer and other diseases. Certain occupations, however, are known to be those where risk of exposure to asbestos is great, and the numbers of people in such occupations contracting asbestos disease are high. Some examples follow:

Insulator aka Asbestos Worker
Prior to 1975, asbestos was used in a considerable number or construction materials. Individuals who insulated furnaces, steam pipes, ovens, or any other high temperature vessel, cut, sawed and applied asbestos block insulation, pipe covering and cements directly. The insulation trade brought workers directly into heavy contact with asbestos and heavy exposure. Even after asbestos was banned as a practical matter in construction materials in 1975, insulators still were involved in repair and maintenance work of asbestos in-place.

Prior the the 1970's the use of asbestos in the insulating trades was so prevalent that insulators in past days were simply called "asbestos workers."

Boilermakers built and repaired boilers and heat containment vessels containing asbestos. Their occupation involved many of the same responsibilities as the insulators discussed above.

In decades past, ship piping, boilers and furnaces were insulated with asbestos. Since fitting out a ship involved cutting and installing asbestos in often small, poorly ventilated spaces, exposures were high.

Steel Worker
Asbestos has been used heavily in the steel industry. The "turn-arounds" of steel ovens, the use of asbestos in steam pipes and on boilers in the steel industry has created a documented path of victims.

Maintenance Worker
Asbestos is place has created a hazard which remains even today. In the maintenance and repair of facilities with asbestos in place, the material may be disturbed and release asbestos in the air.

Pipe Fitter
Steam pipes in decades past were insulated with asbestos block and cement. Gaskets contained asbestos. A steam fitter would be repairing and replacing pipes covered with asbestos. This process was dangerous. Further, steam fitters often had to remove asbestos gaskets that would adhere to pipe flanges or valves. Often a wire brush driven by an electric motor was used to clean off gaskets. The particular process created high dust levels.

Brake Mechanic
Asbestos was used in automobile brakes for several decades. The grinding of brake shoes during installation would create high levels of asbestos dust. Further, dust would accumulate in the brake drum area and become air borne during the replacement of old brake shoes with new shoes. Often brake drums were cleaned with air hoses, releasing millions of asbestos fibers in the air. Some brake shoes, even today, contain asbestos.

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