Construction Workers and Asbestos Exposure
Skilled tradespeople and their labor force built every facility and support system across America. Ordinary construction workers utilized a broad range of materials on the job. For over seven decades, many of these building materials contained a lethal substance called asbestos.
Asbestos was a staple ingredient in hundreds of building products from the 1920s to the 1980s. This was before the extreme hazards of asbestos became widely known, and conclusive proof revealed that long-term asbestos exposure was the sole cause of mesothelioma.
Virtually every home, office building, and factory in America once contained asbestos. Many of them still do. However, most asbestos-based products were phased out in the late 20th century.
How Construction Workers Were Exposed to Asbestos
Construction workers cut, drilled, sanded, and shaped several asbestos-based building products before installing them in their final state. Once installed, most materials containing asbestos were stable and safe.
However, handling asbestos causes tiny fibers to detach and become airborne.
Construction workers were constantly exposed to raw asbestos and dust from asbestos workings.
Construction workers also cross-contaminated people and places outside of their workspace. Asbestos from construction sites settled on workers’ clothes, tools, and vehicles. As a result, families were exposed to asbestos while doing laundry or traveling in contaminated cars.
Even office personnel were at risk of secondhand asbestos exposure when construction workers wearing contaminated clothing dropped by for business.
Some construction workers were consistently exposed to a working environment with high concentrations of airborne asbestos. Whether or not workers were personally installing asbestos materials didn’t matter.
Anyone working with asbestos on a job site could expose construction personnel to the hazardous fibers. This exposure rate was particularly severe on renovation and demolition jobs.