Factory Workers and Asbestos Exposure
Factory processes became popular during the Industrial Revolution. As the world’s population expanded, the need for consumer products exploded. Enterprising businesses realized that factory production was much more efficient at meeting this demand than single item craftsmanship.
The assembly line emerged, and factories sprang up across the nation. Although factory production allowed repetitive tasks to save time and labor, human workers were still required. Factories employed hundreds of thousands of workers.
From the 1930s to the early 1980s, many factories used asbestos. As a result, almost every factory worker was exposed to asbestos.
How Factory Workers Were Exposed to Asbestos
Working with raw asbestos as well as older, finished products happened all the time in factories. Even if factory workers didn’t handle raw asbestos, they often worked with materials, factory tools, and equipment that contained asbestos.
All workers employed in American factories experienced similar environments. Not all factory workers dealt with manufacturing tasks. Many acted in support roles.
These workers were exposed to the same atmosphere as workers in primary production roles. Every factory employee breathed the same air and came in close contact with each other’s clothing, tools, and equipment.
Factory Worker Health Risks Were Ignored
Many asbestos raw material suppliers were well aware of asbestos risks as early as the 1930s. These suppliers, as well as factory owners, investors, and administrators, knowingly put workers’ health in jeopardy.
Factories using asbestos from the 1930s to the early 1980s did little to protect their workers from asbestos exposure.