Drill Press Operators and Asbestos Exposure
Operating a drill press may not sound like a particularly hazardous profession. While creating holes in materials is certainly part of the job, drill press operators performed several other machinist duties, and the role involved working with many different materials.
Until the late 20th century, a great deal of these materials contained a dangerous mineral called asbestos.
Most drill press operators work in factory-like facilities. From the 1920s to the late 1980s, every one of these facilities used asbestos-containing materials for production.
Asbestos was considered the perfect material for constructing machine parts and assembly components because it is inexpensive, light-weight and readily available. Asbestos is also fire-retardant, heat-resistant and non-corrosive. It was an ideal insulator in high-heat and flammable applications.
Today, many drill press operators and other exposed workers suffer life-threatening diseases caused by asbestos exposure.
Drill Press Operators Were Unknowingly Exposed
Drill press operation released vast quantities of raw asbestos particles into the air and left behind mounds of asbestos-laden metal filings and shavings. Sadly, drill press operators unknowingly inhaled or ingested asbestos daily.
How Drill Press Operators Were Exposed to Asbestos
Drill press operators came into contact with asbestos products constantly. Their job involved disturbing asbestos materials by drilling holes, removing stock and modifying shapes.
Continually disturbing asbestos materials resulted in a steady release of tiny asbestos fibers into their surrounding work environment.
Asbestos fibers settled on drill press operators’ clothes, tools and personal equipment such as lunch boxes and packs. These unsuspecting workers then carried asbestos-contaminated materials home, exposing their families and friends to the hazardous fibers as well.