Guest Blog from Asbestos.com providing helpful advice on the dangers and health risks of exposure to Asbestos.
Which Construction Jobs have the Highest Risk for Asbestos Exposure?
The construction industry has been one of the largest sources of asbestos exposure. Before regulations in the late 1970s limited the use of asbestos in construction material, more than 3,000 asbestos-containing products were made with asbestos.
Products like cement, paint, insulation, drywall and roofing materials all contained asbestos. Workers, who mixed, installed or removed these products likely experienced exposure if they failed to wear protective gear. At the time, most workers were completely unaware that asbestos could cause serious diseases later in life.
As a result, many former construction workers have developed mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. These conditions are typically fatal and treatment options usually only relieve symptoms for a short period of time. The best way to fight an asbestos-related disease is to detect it early. With symptoms taking as much as 50 years to arise, former construction workers who handled asbestos should receive annual screenings to check for an asbestos-related disease.
Jobs at Risk
Although every job in the construction industry could have placed workers at risk for inhaling asbestos, certain tasks carried higher than average risks for exposure. Construction jobs that have historically been associated with high exposure rates include:
Roofers and Siding Installers – Roofing materials have been a big source for asbestos exposure because shingles and roofing felt were made with asbestos. The installation of a roof with asbestos products or the removal of one that was built with asbestos materials certainly could result in airborne asbestos fibers.
Siding installers also faced asbestos risk factors on a regular basis. During the housing boom in the 1960s and ‘70s, asbestos siding was a very popular material. Today’s construction workers should be careful when replacing old siding on a house.
Demolition Worker – Demolition work is one of the most at-risk jobs for asbestos exposure. Asbestos fibers become airborne after being disturbed and demolition work is certain to damage asbestos products if they’re present.
Insulation Installer – Asbestos insulation has possibly been responsible for more exposure occurrences than any other asbestos product. The material was used in attics, basements, walls, electrical boxes and anywhere else that required insulation. Asbestos naturally possesses insulating and fireproofing capabilities, so incorporating it into insulation materials made perfect sense.
Drywall Installer – Before the 1980s, drywall was often made with asbestos. The installation or removal of drywall has always been an occupation with higher than average exposure risks. If asbestos-containing drywall needed to be cut to fit into a specific space, asbestos fibers were likely released into the air.
Abatement Worker – Anyone who performs asbestos abatement is certainly at risk for exposure. Abatement workers are called in to physically remove asbestos-containing materials. If done improperly, exposure can easily occur.
Although most workers fully understand the risks involved and take all precautions to avoid inhaling asbestos, accidents can happen. Some companies hire employees unfamiliar with asbestos abatement practices and do not protect them with equipment. However, it is illegal to let uninformed workers perform asbestos abatement and all safety precautions must be taken. Today, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency strictly enforce safe asbestos procedures.
There are a number of additional construction jobs that place workers at risk on a daily basis, but the jobs mentioned above presented some of the highest risks. Those who performed these jobs for more than a few years naturally have a higher chance of developing an asbestos-related cancer. However, it should be noted that there is no safe level of exposure. If asbestos-containing materials are suspected, it’s best to assume asbestos is present and to take all safety precautions.
Bio: Jensen Whitmer has been writing for the Mesothelioma Center for more than three years and he has an interest in spreading awareness about the hazardous effects of asbestos exposure.
Posted on June 6, 2012, in Industry News and tagged asbestos, asbestos.com, cancer, center, Construction, demolition, drywall, exposure, insulation, mesothelioma, roofers, tradesman. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.