Cabinet Maker

Summary

Cabinet makers are skilled craftspeople who build fine woodworking pieces. They don’t just construct kitchen and bathroom cabinets or built-in storage units in laundry areas that are common in homes. Professional cabinet makers historically crossed a wide spectrum of industrial, commercial and residential manufacturing and installation sites. During the twentieth century, the cabinet making industry used many asbestos-based materials. Asbestos was also common in other construction products that exposed cabinet makers to dangerous airborne asbestos fibers.

Cabinet Making Professions and Careers

Cabinet making is a complicated and precise profession taking years to build proficiency in making fine joinery and finishes. Many cabinet makers dedicated their careers to improving skills and experimenting with new materials. Professional cabinet makers work on many different sites and facilities.

Some of these locations employed cabinet makers:

  • Commercial cabinet making factories that mass produced units
  • Specialty shops that built custom cabinets and furniture
  • Building cabinet accessories like doors, drawers and countertops
  • Installation locations in commercial and residential buildings
  • Renovation sites where old cabinets were removed and replaced

Asbestos Applications in Cabinet Making

No matter what space cabinet makers occupy, it’s sure to be dusty. Cabinet making involves numerous processes that shape and finish wood as well as other porous materials. Components are cut, sawn, sanded and finished creating clouds of fine dust particles. It’s a natural part of the process and nearly impossible to avoid.

MJN Brief

Asbestos was a prominent product used in cabinets until the 1980s. Asbestos use became popular in the cabinet making industry back in the 1920s. That led to a 60-year period where multiple generations of cabinet builders and installers were exposed to asbestos dust and other products through their entire careers.

Many cabinet builders and installers were exposed to asbestos daily from these common cabinet making products all containing asbestos:

  • Paper linings in cabinet interiors
  • Veneers on cabinet exteriors
  • Adhesives and glues
  • Particleboard
  • Paints and finishes
  • Custom countertops

Asbestos Exposure in Cabinet Makers

Cabinet makers weren’t only exposed to asbestos through their own products. Many cabinet makers manufactured their work right on jobsites rather than in a factory or shop setting. On sites, many other tradespeople were working with asbestos materials that sent their dust and waste into the air.

Cabinet makers breathed in asbestos dust from these additional construction materials:

Cabinet makers were also at risk of asbestos exposure on demolition and renovation sites. It wasn’t just new construction sites that posed a health risk to cabinet builders and installers.

Even today, cabinet makers doing renovations will work in older houses and commercial buildings containing asbestos in their cabinets and other construction materials. Tearing apart old work releases dormant asbestos particles into the air.

These are microscopic and invisible fibers. Newer workers can be seriously contaminated with asbestos dust without knowing it. Cabinet makers also unintentionally contaminated their home environments. They’d routinely return home wearing dusty clothes from their worksite. Asbestos fibers can float about the air and be ingested or inhaled by family members.

Asbestos Health Risks to Cabinet Makers

Cabinet makers were exposed to asbestos dust by inhaling fibers into their lungs, ingesting them in their digestive systems or through skin contact. Some types of asbestos fibers are more dangerous than others. Chrysotile, or white asbestos, was common in many building products. It’s risky but not nearly as dangerous as the amphibole asbestos group.

Unfortunately for the cabinet making profession, amphibole asbestos was the main ingredient in cabinet making papers and adhesives. Dust from cutting, sawing or sanding amphibole asbestos released deadly fibers into the air and was inhaled by thousands of cabinet makers. Most did not wear masks or respirators in the good old days.

Asbestos fibers lodge within the lung lining called the pleura. These tiny fibers are impossible to expel, and they can sit dormant for decades before manifesting as fatal cancerous tumors. This disease is known as mesothelioma. It’s a serious threat to all cabinet makers who were exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos Compensation for Cabinet Makers

If you’re one of the unfortunate cabinet makers or other craftspeople who developed mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases, you may be entitled to compensation. This may help cover medical expenses, lost income or provide personal injury payment. Families who lost a member due to asbestos exposure may be eligible for compensation as well. Wrongful death lawsuits can be filed against negligent asbestos material manufacturers and distributors.

For more information on seeking justice for asbestos exposure as a cabinet maker, contact out Justice Support Team today.