Common Asbestos Professions
Workers in many different occupations face the risk of exposure to asbestos. Construction workers, for instance, are especially at risk when remodeling or demolishing older structures and buildings. Workers at a higher risk are those professions including sheet metal workers, drywall installers, pipefitters, plumbers, insulators and electricians, where asbestos use was prominent for insulation and fire-proofing. However, these are not the only jobs at which workers are at risk, as even roofers and those working with flooring removal can be exposed as well. The following are some of the professions where asbestos exposure is likely, and the corresponding asbestos-containing materials associated with these professions.
During building insulation or when insulating electrical wires or systems, electricians are at risk of asbestos exposure, especially when working in older buildings. When involved in maintenance work or remodeling on buildings constructed before asbestos regulations, the exposure risk is common.
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Insulation work is extremely complex, as insulators work to prevent heat transfer within a building, and to reduce energy loss with that insulation. Particles of asbestos often touch the skin of the insulation worker. Because the job is dirty and dusty, the particles are easily breathed into the worker’s respiratory system. This type of work may require cementing, wiring, taping, or spraying asbestos-containing materials during installation. Sometimes compressors are used for blowing insulation into walls and attics of the buildings, resulting in asbestos particles being released into the air surrounding the job site. During demolition and remodeling projects, insulators often have the responsibility of removing old asbestos. This task requires specific techniques to remove the material safely, including wearing protective clothing and gear, and ensuring the area is properly ventilated, to name a few.
Plumbers and Pipefitters
Professionals who repair and install plumbing systems in buildings and residential homes work with gas systems and waste disposal, as well as drainage and water systems. These plumbers can be exposed to piping systems and other equipment that either contains asbestos or was insulated using asbestos-containing materials. Pipefitters work with some of the same plumbing and pipes within cooling or heating systems in buildings, and on those that generate electricity. Both pipefitters and plumbers often come into contact with asbestos, and at times may have to remove the material from the area in which they need to work. Asbestos was originally used for these types of applications because of its durability and fire-resistant properties.
Asbestos was often used in dry wall products such as plaster, dry wall tape and joint compound, especially in older homes and commercial buildings. Drywall installers are often exposed to these dangerous products which are linked to various kinds of cancer, including mesothelioma.
Sheet Metal Workers
Sheet metal workers not only perform duct work for cooling and heating systems, but they also work on roofing as well, and any of these systems can cause them to be exposed to asbestos material. Because asbestos has great heat resistant abilities as well as insulating properties, it was once widely used in and around heating and cooling elements.
Because the commercial use of all types of asbestos has been so widespread, it is likely that most manual laborers and professional tradesmen not to come into contact with the dangerous substance. This puts workers in all common asbestos professions at risk of exposure which may lead to developing mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses and diseases.