Crane Operators and Asbestos Exposure
Crane operators are at the top of the hierarchy in the world of heavy equipment operation. Operating a construction or loading crane takes a high level of skill, and most crane operators are well paid. Their various responsibilities include handling valuable materials and protecting their expensive machinery.
A crane operator’s career can be a dangerous one. Working with cranes poses many hazards, including falling materials, overloading, and electrical hazards. Historically, crane operators also faced the danger of asbestos exposure.
As long as asbestos remains stable and undisturbed, it’s not particularly dangerous. But when it’s cut or torn during installation, asbestos becomes highly hazardous.
Working with asbestos causes fine particles to dislodge from the material and become airborne. These microscopic fibers float through the air, finding their way into workers’ respiratory and digestive systems.
Crane Operators Were Unaware of Asbestos Risks
It didn’t matter if a crane operator was at ground level or perched high in the air. They were at risk of breathing in or swallowing airborne asbestos fibers daily. Tragically, most crane operators of the era received no warning that asbestos exposure was dangerous.
How Crane Operators Were Exposed to Asbestos
Asbestos was once a very popular building material. Several different work environments and construction materials put crane operators at risk of asbestos exposure between the 1920s and 1980s.
Demolition sites were just as hazardous as construction sites when it came to asbestos exposure. Practically every commercial building built in the early- and mid-20th century contained tons of asbestos. Before the dangers of asbestos were known, the material was considered perfect for insulation and fireproofing.
Crane operators were often present on demolition sites, using wrecking balls to destroy buildings. This would release large amounts of trapped asbestos dust into the air where it could be inhaled by anyone working nearby.
Asbestos in Crane Parts
Since asbestos is exceptionally durable and heat-resistant, many crane machinery parts contained asbestos materials. Every time a crane operator serviced their machine or checked the brakes, they faced a high risk of asbestos exposure.
Most crane operators worked in open cabs or control areas, exposing them to any asbestos floating around the job site. Even if the cabs were enclosed, few were air-conditioned or had air filtration systems. Cramped areas with poor ventilation like these easily trap airborne asbestos.
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.