Asbestos at Work

Statistics that were unveiled in a study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety showed that more than 75 occupational groups have been exposed to asbestos.

One study has even shown that over half of workers occupationally exposed between 1940 and 1970 may be currently living with an asbestos related cancer.

While this means that a high number of people have been exposed to asbestos, it doesn’t guarantee that the person will go on to develop an asbestos related disease, even if they are at a higher risk. Family members that might have been living a home with people that had been working with asbestos could be at risk as the deadly fibres may have been brought into the home on overalls or other working clothes.

Occupations most likely to be exposed to asbestos:

  • Aircraft mechanics
  • Asbestos miners and plant workers
  • Blacksmiths
  • Automotive mechanics
  • Appliance installers
  • Boiler workers
  • Construction workers
  • Electricians
  • Engineers
  • Factory workers
  • Firefighters
  • Insulators
  • Metal workers
  • Plumbers
  • Shipyard workers
  • Metal workers
  • Joiners

While the above professions might have had limited exposure to asbestos, some occupations that would have had the highest exposure to asbestos include:

  • Shipbuilding and repair work
  • Working with industrial chemicals
  • Railway builders
  • Steelworks or blast furnace workers
  • Electrical engineering

Do people still work with asbestos?

Due to the heavy use of asbestos in industries like shipbuilding and construction there is still a likelihood that people may encounter asbestos, even today. It is recommended that anyone buying a house built before the year 2000 find out if their house is likely to contain asbestos.

The government has put in place regulations that people working with asbestos are required to be licensed even in situations where their exposure to asbestos may be sporadic and low in intensity. Higher risk asbestos containing materials include asbestos coating or insulation, asbestos lagging and asbestos insulation boards. These should only be removed by a licensed asbestos contractor.

It has also been made an offence to carry out licensable work without a license and companies can receive a hefty fine if they choose to ignore these regulations.