Cement Plant Workers Roles and Responsibilities
A central part of the cement worker’s 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.
Did You Know?
Mesothelioma Cancer Network Brief
A 25-year study was carried out in China to look at the difference between the two types of asbestos and concluded that both were equally as dangerous 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 risk is lower for workers in the present.