Draftsmen are responsible for drawing up technical instructions for buildings, machinery and other projects. However, these professionals are not confined to safe office environments. Draftsmen are required to work alongside tradespeople like miners and construction workers. Historically, this meant facing the threat of asbestos exposure at hazardous worksites.

Get a Free Case Review

Draftsmen and Asbestos Exposure

Draftsmen, or drafters as they’re now commonly called, are responsible for developing building plans. They convert ideas from architects or designers into usable blueprints. At first thought, draftsmen don’t seem to be at great risk of asbestos exposure.

While this job doesn’t sound dangerous, draftsmen often work on construction sites and mining sites where they are exposed to many workplace hazards. In the past, draftsmen regularly worked in environments contaminated with high volumes of asbestos.

Draftsmen were exposed to large amounts of asbestos for prolonged periods over their careers.

Draftsmen didn’t handle asbestos-containing materials directly. However, they were frequently at risk of asbestos exposure when visiting job sites.

Draftsmen often worked on high-risk worksites for long periods, surrounded by airborne asbestos fibers. These highly skilled professionals may have inhaled asbestos many times over the course of a project.

How Draftsmen Were Exposed to Asbestos

Although draftsmen didn’t work directly with products containing asbestos, most were exposed to airborne asbestos particles every time they visited a worksite.

It was typical for draftsmen to visit worksites when planning or making changes to building projects. The unknown reality for drafters was that these sites were a hotbed for asbestos exposure.

Three particular industries put draftsmen at high risk of developing asbestos-related illnesses.

1. Construction

Every construction site in America used some form of asbestos between the 1920s and 1980s. These asbestos-containing materials included insulation, roofing, flooring, drywall, and sealants.

Every American construction company employed draftsmen who spent hours on worksites where asbestos particles filled the air.

2. Mining

Every mine employed draftsmen who calculated details for constructing and supporting underground works.

Underground mines were notorious for asbestos dust. Most mine shafts and tunnels were narrow with terrible ventilation, and anyone working in this environment could not avoid inhaling or ingesting deadly asbestos fibers. It wasn’t just asbestos mines that were hazardous—asbestos was used in all sorts of mining materials and equipment.

3. Shipbuilding

Draftsmen worked throughout the shipbuilding industry, drawing detailed plans for ship hulls, systems, and finishes. Shipbuilding was especially productive during World War II when asbestos was used as a primary material for insulation and heat control.

Draftsmen worked inside ships and alongside tradespeople, facing an equal risk of asbestos exposure as those directly handling asbestos products.

Were You Exposed to 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.

Free Legal Case Review

Asbestos Used on Construction Sites

Asbestos was once considered the perfect building material because it was cheap, durable and lightweight. The dangerous material was widely used in fireproofing and insulation applications.

Several construction products contained asbestos, including:

  • Drywall board
  • Cement powder
  • Roofing shingles
  • Floor tiles
  • Equipment components

Draftsmen didn’t just sit at office desks cranking out paper plans.

Visiting asbestos-contaminated workplaces was unavoidable. Drafters had to consult with tradespeople, architects, and engineers on-site as they developed plans for buildings and other works.

They were responsible for taking measurements, performing calculations, writing directions and following up with site inspections.

Direct exposure occurred when draftsmen inhaled or swallowed asbestos fibers on asbestos-ridden construction sites. However, draftsmen were also at risk of secondary exposure in their office and home environments.

During visits to worksites, asbestos fibers would cling to their clothing, tools, and papers, eventually contaminating offsite locations.

Draftsmen Careers

Draftsmen are in a unique position with their careers and job roles. They aren’t the individuals who develop ideas or come up with solutions to project ventures.

Most professionals involved in building science or related disciplines have excellent ideas, but they rely on drafters to translate these ideas into usable blueprints and plans.

The drafter is responsible for taking general concepts and developing working instructions. Workers in the construction trades use these instructions to build everything from buildings to mine shafts.

For hundreds of years, drafting directions were paper drawings. Draftsmen would hand-draw pages of plan views and cross-sections, developing three-dimensional understandings of architectural and engineering ideas.

Pencil and paper gave way to computer printouts in the 1980s. Coincidently, asbestos was being phased out during this same period.

Draftsmen Health Risks

Due to both on- and off-site asbestos exposure, people who worked as draftsmen are at a high risk of developing mesothelioma. The particular risk to a drafter’s health depends on the amount of asbestos inhaled and the duration of their exposure.

Drafters frequently inhaled or ingested asbestos fibers on the job. Once in the body, these needle-like fibers become lodged in the lungs or abdomen. Over a period of 20-50 years, embedded asbestos fibers trigger the formation of mesothelioma tumors.

A draftsman could still develop mesothelioma today after being exposed to asbestos in the 1960s or 1970s.

Help for Mesothelioma Victims

Draftsmen who developed mesothelioma after workplace asbestos exposure may be eligible for legal compensation to cover medical expenses or personal injury.

Courts have also ordered punitive damages against asbestos producers who concealed information from the public about asbestos dangers.

Relatives may be eligible to file lawsuits for family members who are suffering from mesothelioma. Family members can also file wrongful death suits if their loved one has passed away from a disease caused by asbestos exposure.

Hiring an experienced mesothelioma lawyer is the best way to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

For more information on seeking legal justice for drafters exposed to asbestos, contact our Justice Support Team today.

Author:Stephanie Kidd

Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network

Stephanie Kidd

Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

Last modified: October 25, 2019

Back to Top