Draftsmen

Summary

At first thought, draftsmen don’t appear to be at great risk for asbestos exposure. But it’s quite the contrary. Draftsmen, or drafters as they’re now commonly called, worked around some of the highest volumes of asbestos in their role of developing plans for building projects.

Draftsmen didn’t normally handle products containing asbestos materials. Their tasks put them in a different position. That was being in working environments containing vast amounts of airborne asbestos fibers they breathed in over extended periods.

Draftsmen Careers and Job Roles

Draftsmen were in a unique position with their careers and job roles. They weren’t the individuals who developed ideas or created solutions to ventures. The drafter’s responsibility was taking information from general concepts and developing working instructions on how to achieve a successful end result.

This sounds like a simple process where an architect, engineer or builder tells the draftsperson what they need and how to build it. Most professionals in building science or related disciplines are excellent in theory, but they relied on drafters to be the go-between from the degree-holders and the workers actuallyHEa building a project.

Paper drawings were the core of drafting directions for hundreds of years. Draftsmen would hand-draw pages of detailed drawings showing plan views and cross-sections giving three dimensional understanding of architectural and engineering ideas. Pencil and paper gave way to computer printouts in the 1980s. Coincidently, this was the same period asbestos was also being phased out.

Although draftsmen didn’t directly work with products containing asbestos, most were severely exposed to airborne asbestos particles every time they visited a worksite they drew plans for. The unknown reality for drafters was these sites were a cloud of microscopic asbestos fibers.

These three particular industries put draftsmen at the highest risk of developing asbestos-related illnesses:

  • Construction: Every construction site in America used some form of asbestos materials from the 1920s to the 1980s. That included insulation, roofing, flooring, drywall and sealants. And every American construction company employed draftsmen who spent hours on worksites where asbestos particles contaminated the air.
  • Mining: Underground mines were notorious places for asbestos dust. Most mine shafts and tunnels were narrow with terrible ventilation. Anyone present unavoidably inhaled and ingested deadly asbestos fibers. It didn’t have to be an asbestos mine gassing off fibers. Asbestos was used in all sorts of mining materials and equipment. And every mine employed draftsmen in this environment who calculated details for constructing and supporting underground works.
  • Shipbuilding: Draftsmen worked throughout the shipbuilding industry. They drew detailed drawings for ship hulls, systems and finishes. Shipbuilding was exceptionally productive during World War II, and asbestos was a chief material for insulation and heat control. Draftsmen worked inside ships and alongside tradespeople making drafters every bit at-risk as other workers for inhaling asbestos dust.

Draftsmen and Asbestos Exposure

Draftsmen didn’t just sit in an office above a table cranking out paper plans. Visiting asbestos-contaminated workplaces was unavoidable. Drafters had to consult on-site with tradesmen, architects and engineers. They took measurements, made calculations, wrote directions and followed up with more site inspections.

MJN Brief

Draftsmen were exposed to large, prolonged asbestos amounts over their careers. One exposure form was direct where they breathed in or swallowed microscopic asbestos fibers at the worksite. The second was secondary asbestos exposure where particles contaminated their clothes, tools and papers. That made their remote office and home environments equally risky every time a contaminated piece was disturbed and invisible dust took to the air.

Mesothelioma and Draftsmen

Both on and off-site contamination made a draftsman’s profession one of the highest employment categories for developing malignant mesothelioma. Drafters who inhaled asbestos fibers had no way to expel these tiny but deadly particles that entered their lung or abdominal linings. Over time, these fibrous lung infestations turned tumorous and spread cancer cells through their systems.

Developing a fatal disease like mesothelioma from asbestos exposure takes time. The degree of risk a drafter faced depended on the amount of asbestos consumed and the duration of exposure. A draftsman could have been exposed to asbestos in the 1940s and 1950s but not develop mesothelioma until now. It’s well documented that dormant periods of one to five decades regularly occur.

Compensation for Mesothelioma Victims

Draftsmen who developed the deadly mesothelioma disease after workplace asbestos exposure may be entitled to court-awarded compensation. This can be money covering medical expenses or personal injury. Courts have also ordered punitive damages against asbestos producers who were fully aware of asbestos dangers but concealed this information from the public. Relatives may also be eligible to file lawsuits for family members suffering mesothelioma or wrongful death suits where a loved one passed away from a disease caused by asbestos exposure.