4 jobs with a high risk of asbestos exposure

On Behalf of | Dec 8, 2021 | Workers' Compensation |

Asbestos is a mineral that occurs naturally as thin fibers. At one point, it was very popular as a material used in building construction and household goods because of its fire resistance. Unfortunately, exposure to asbestos can damage the lungs. According to Medline Plus, it can form scar tissue that makes the expansion and contraction required for respiration more difficult. It is also carcinogenic and can cause mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Because of the health risks relating to asbestos, there are now broad restrictions on its use. Nevertheless, people in certain occupations are still at risk for exposure.

1. Mechanics

At one point, it was common to use asbestos in the construction of brakes used in aircraft, heavy machinery and automobiles. Mechanics who service older vehicles may experience accidental exposure.

2. Construction and demolition workers

While current building materials no longer contain asbestos as they did in the past, people who work in construction may also do demolition. The danger of asbestos exposure comes from demolishing older buildings that may contain asbestos in their insulation.

3. Miners

While asbestos mining is all but defunct, operations continue to extract other types of ore. Asbestos may be present in the rock that the miners break through to get to the ore they are looking for, and exposure can take place that way.

4. Firefighters

A fire in a building exposes materials that would ordinarily remain behind the walls, including insulation. An older building may contain asbestos, and first responders may breathe it in while extinguishing the fire and rescuing people. Exposure may also occur indirectly due to fibers that become stuck on the firefighters’ gear.

Older buildings and machinery may have safety issues that put them at greater risk of breaking down or catching fire. This increases the risk of asbestos exposure.