Cement Plant Workers

Summary

Cement is a commonly used building substance made from a mixture of limestone and other materials. Before the 1970s, it was popular for cement to be mixed with asbestos to provide strength, flexibility and protection against heat. Because asbestos is fireproof, it served as an ideal component for making molded cement siding, including roof tiles, corrugated sheets and shingles.

Cement Plant Workers Roles and Responsibilities

The role of a cement plant worker is to mix, mold and distribute cement, which before 1970 generally contained asbestos.

MJN Brief

A central part of the job was to take blocks of asbestos and stir them into the heated cement mixture—binding the ingredients before pouring them into a cast for manufacturing. This put cement plant workers in direct contact with asbestos, which is now known to cause mesothelioma.

While the ratio of asbestos to cement would have been around 1 to 10, there were often enough leftover fibers in the cement plants to cause health issues. These fibers would attach themselves to workers’ clothing, hair and shoes, contaminating other areas of the plant.Other workers in the cement plant may have dealt with the finished product, rather than the making of it. One such product was corrugated sheets, which were created using a mold.

The workers were responsible for stacking these sheets, which then created a cloud of toxic asbestos dust that could easily become inhaled. After this, the product would be transported to the shipping department via conveyor belts, which further circulated the fibers throughout the rest of the factory.

Cement Plant Workers and Asbestos Exposure

There are 2 types of asbestos used in cement mixing, and there is much debate about which form can be the most detrimental to health.

The 2 types of asbestos used in cement mixing were:

  1. Brown and Blue Asbestos: Before the 1960s, amosite (brown) or crocidolite (blue) asbestos was used in cement-making and was often known as the most dangerous. This type of asbestos has long, rigid, needle-like fibers that burrow into the soft tissue of the pleural (lung) lining.
  2. White Asbestos: The second type of asbestos used was chrysotile (white), a more delicate type of fiber in a serpentine shape that was initially thought to be safer.

MJN Brief

A 25-year study was carried out in China to look at the difference between the 2 types of asbestos, and concluded that both were almost equally as detrimental to health in factory-like settings. However, another study in Poland noted that the crocidolite fibers were far more dangerous and were the cause of more deaths.

Cement plants changed the formula to chrysotile from the 1960s onward, which resulted in fewer deaths at the time. However, as mesothelioma can lay dormant for many decades, we will not fully know the damage done by the dangers of this type of asbestos.

Cement-Making Today

Asbestos is no longer used in cement-making today, though many old buildings will still contain the original cement, so caution is advised.

Substantial improvements in cement plants and the changing of technology mean that this industry is much safer today. Asbestos was prohibited from cement goods in 1998, so while some workers are still being diagnosed with mesothelioma today, there is hope that the disease may be diagnosed less often in the future.

Cement Plant Workers and Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma occurs when fibers of asbestos become inhaled and lodged in the lining of the lungs. Symptoms can lay dormant for 10-50 years in some cases, but over time these needles form tumors which can spread throughout the lungs and nearby organs.

Cement plant workers would have come into daily contact with asbestos, and while the amounts were not in as high quantity or concentration as some other professions (for example, boilermakers), the material would have been lingering in the air of the factory at all times.

Cement plant workers who didn’t come into contact with asbestos as part of their job may still have been at risk, as the fibers were easily carried in the air into other areas of the factory on clothes and shoes, such as the shared canteen area.

Compensation for Cement Plant Workers

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related disease, you will most likely be eligible for compensation. Filing for a lawsuit is the best course of action and can be done up to 3 years from your diagnosis date, depending on your state. The family of mesothelioma victims can also file a lawsuit for wrongful death within 3 years of death.

For more information on seeking justice for cement plant workers with mesothelioma, contact our Justice Support Team today.

View Author and Sources
Sources
  1. Mortality of workers at two asbestos-cement plants in Poland. Retrieved from: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/1b69/d906016b18a2e2b96dec0fe9d0699c35324c.pdf
    Accessed on April 13, 2018.
  2. Working with Asbestos cement. Retrieved from: https://www.eden.gov.uk/business-and-trade/food-hygiene-and-health/health-and-safety-at-work/working-with-asbestos-cement/. Accessed on April 13, 2018.
  3. Cancer Mortality among Workers Exposed to Amphibole-free Chrysotile Asbestos. Retrieved from: https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/154/6/538/75089. Accessed on April 13, 2018.

Last modified: April 27, 2018