According to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), asbestos disease is the leading cause of death in twelve different occupations. Interestingly, steelworkers are not indicated by name in this particular category. However, any study of industrial practices soon show that wherever high heat or fire is a hazard, asbestos is present in one form or another. In fact, according to the Asbestos Resource Center, steel and iron workers are among the highest risk of asbestos asbestos exposure.
Asbestos Products in Steel and Iron Foundries
Asbestos has been used for well over 3,000 years because of its heat and fire-resistant properties. It is actually a kind of stone, and is in the same mineral category as silicon. However, asbestiform minerals differ from other kinds of silicate rock in that they have the consistency of cotton or flax, making them very easy to weave into clothing.
Here is the irony; the greatest asbestos danger to steel and iron workers was found in the very clothing that was designed to protect them from burns, such as overcoats, gloves and fire-proof aprons, and even face masks. If and when these became worn or damaged, asbestos fibers were released from the linings of such gear. In addition, asbestos in steel mills and iron foundries were used for the blast furnaces, boilers and steam pipes as well as tools such as ladles.
Specific Jobs With Higher Rates of Asbestos Exposure
In any industrial operation, there are various jobs that must be performed. At a steel mill, those positions most likely to come in contact with asbestos fibers are those of pourer/caster, operator, tended, furnace operator and inspector as well as machine setter, steel lather/millwright and welder.
New uses of asbestos in construction were technically banned in the late 1970s; however, most of the remaining steel mills in the U.S. were built before then. Despite an ongoing program of asbestos removal, abatement and containment, there are still hundreds of thousands of buildings in the U.S. that still contain asbestos. Moreover, asbestos is still not banned in the United States today.
If You Have Been Exposed
- Leigh, Paul J. Causes of Death in the Workplace, pp. 5 – 6
- Asbestos Resource Center. “Asbestos Exposure: Occupations at Risk” (2007).
- Bowker, Michael. Fatal Deception, pp. 45 – 46.
- Mesothelioma SOS. “Asbestos Exposure at Steel and Metal Works”
- Bowker, p. 19
- Environmental Working Group. “The Failed EPA Asbestos Ban”
- Pope, Charles., 31 July 2007, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “Murray’s Asbestos Bill Advances”, http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/325817_asbestos01.html