Given the nature of the machinist’s trade, it is not surprising that asbestos exposure ranks as one of the more dangerous liabilities of the profession. Machinists, who work for hours on end using large machining centers, power lathes, and milling machines to fabricate or trim and finish metal parts for other companies, require protection from extreme heat situations, as well as protection from electrical discharges and also from cuts and abrasions that can occur in the machining process. All of these potentially dangerous scenarios have been rectified in the past through the use of asbestos.
Asbestos, especially in the past, has been used in the manufacturing industry as a heat-shielding agent, often surrounding the machining centers to protect stray workers in the vicinity, or else in the very construction of the rooms and labs where machinists labor–in ceiling, wall and floor tiles as a heat-dampening and fire-prevention agent. To limit the risk of electrical shocks as well as cuts and abrasions, asbestos–which has electrical resistance properties as well as cut- and puncture-resistance qualities–has actually been used as protective gear worn by machinists in the form of aprons and gloves, making close personal contact with the element impossible to avoid. When these garments were damaged in the machining process, or when floor and wall and ceiling tiles were removed or replaced, the asbestos dust hung in the air for all workers in the vicinity to breathe or to take home on their clothing for other friends or family members to inhale.
The establishment of manufacturing as the backbone of America after the Industrial Revolution resulted in hundreds of thousands of machinist jobs. To this day, there are more than 475,000 machinists in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Given the lengthy amount of time it can take for asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma, asbestosis or lung cancer to manifest–often several decades between exposure and onset of the physical symptoms–it is not surprising that many individuals today are being diagnosed with diseases related to asbestos exposure they encountered long ago, before greater safety standards began to be applied in military and industrial settings.
If you or a loved one is believed to be at risk for developing mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that affects the membrane covering the lungs and many internal organs, or if you or your loved one is already experiencing mesothelioma symptoms from past exposure, contact Simmons Hanly Conroy today.
Machinist Asbestos Exposure Resources
- What You Need to Know about Asbestos in the Workplace
- Asbestos Exposure Awareness for a Safe Today & Healthy Tomorrow
- Mesothelioma as an Occupational Lung Disease