Bulldozer Operators and Asbestos Exposure
Most people wouldn’t consider heavy equipment workers like bulldozer operators to be at high risk for asbestos exposure. They’d think the same applies to excavator and crane operators as well. But that’s not the case.
Any worker who operates demolition equipment around asbestos-contaminated job sites and buildings could be exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos.
Most heavy equipment operators work outdoors and inside their machines. Some heavy machines have isolated cabs with filtered air condition systems. But most don’t. The operator has open windows or sides and is fully exposed to the air. That can be a disaster when dormant asbestos is disturbed during demolition.
There’s nothing dainty about demolition work. Building teardown is violent work where all types of materials are crushed and ground so they can be taken away.
When asbestos-based building products are ripped apart, clouds of microscopic particles fill the air and surround the bulldozer operator with a swirl of asbestos dust.
How Asbestos Exposure Takes Place
Over time, asbestos becomes friable, turning into powder when it’s old and dry. It’s easily ingested into an equipment operator’s lungs and digestive tract. Asbestos particles also settle on the operator’s clothes. They’re transported back home where family members suffer secondary exposure.
Bulldozer operators aren’t only exposed to asbestos during primary demolition work. Many old sites are still highly contaminated with asbestos even when the majority of the demolished material is gone.
Those asbestos clouds raised during a knockdown find their way to the ground. A new machine operator who had nothing to do with primary demolition may show up to excavate for a new project. They’ll disturb the settled asbestos fines and create an equally hazardous condition without realizing it.
How Bulldozer Operators Were Exposed to Asbestos
Demolition work happens routinely. During a career operating heavy equipment, a machine technician faces many different jobs. Some are simple with quick and easy access. Others are complex and contain dangerous materials like asbestos.
These are examples of demolition jobs a bulldozer operator gets tasked with:
- Industrial Teardowns: Almost all chemical factories and manufacturing plants used asbestos-based products. That was mostly in heat-resistant and fireproofing applications.
- Commercial Building Demolitions: This could be anything from old fuel stations to department stores. Asbestos was regularly used in floors, walls, ceilings, and roofs.
- Residential Wrecking: Old houses are regularly taken down, making way for new structures. Homes built before the 1980s contained many asbestos materials like roofing, masonry and cabinet liners.
Thousands came into contact with asbestos on a regular basis. Get a free legal case review to find out if you may have been exposed.