Grinding machine operators generally work in a role that requires them to work with metal—grinding it down to its desired shape, reworking brakes and mending mechanical parts to create something new or repurpose a broken fitting.
Grinding Machine Operators Roles and Responsibilities
Grinding metal is one of the primary roles of a grinding machine operator, but the job also includes the reviewing of information (such as blueprints) to create the best fitting or part for the job.
The machine operator must then pick the correct machine to get the job done and ensure that the machine is set up correctly. They also maintain the machine throughout the year to ensure there is no downtime between jobs.
This highly skilled job also takes into consideration product specifications and dimensions. The qualified individual must also look at the tolerances of the metal they are using.
There are a number of grinding rates that are also of great importance and a choice of speeds. The grinding machine operator must take all of this into consideration when creating or reworking the correct part or shape to complete the job.
Alongside the job itself, it is the responsibility of the grinding machine operator to ensure the health and safety of the other employees. The machines must be in full working order and tested regularly to avoid harming other workers.
Grinding Machine Operators and Asbestos Exposure
There are many risks involved in becoming a grinding machine operator, as there are when working with almost any type of machinery.
But perhaps one of the least understood dangers grinding machine operators faced was asbestos.
Asbestos was used throughout the manufacturing industry from the mid-1900s until around 1980. It was seen as a durable and inexpensive material that prevented the spread of fires and served as an excellent insulator. Asbestos does not pose a threat when it remains whole, but it does become friable very quickly and, when inhaled, is carcinogenic.
Asbestos was commonly used within the walls of buildings or wrapped around boiler units, and if these were disturbed (through construction or repair) then the fibers could become airborne. It was also used during production, on brakes and parts to help protect against heat.
Workers were exposed to asbestos in many ways. In industries such as construction and manufacturing, asbestos was a crucial component in the building of the factory itself. Asbestos was generally used in the tiling, bricks, drywall and flooring, and many factories remain this way today across the U.S.
Maintenance Work and Asbestos Exposure
While asbestos is prevalent in many kinds of factories, those who worked in maintenance were often most at risk of being exposed to asbestos.
Before the 1980s, the dangers of asbestos were not fully made public, and most workers were sent to work on jobs or machines without any breathing equipment or protective clothing.
Other duties included removing old asbestos that was being used as insulation, tearing-out pipe covering and as protection on grinding gaskets, which would have put grinding machine operators in direct contact with the substance. As a result, it may have put them at risk of developing mesothelioma.
One of the scariest aspects of asbestos is how easily it can be carried in the air or on clothing. Not only were those who came into direct contact with the material at risk, but also those in the area.
Grinding Machine Operators and Mesothelioma
Asbestos has long been associated with many types of cancer, in particular, mesothelioma—a disease caused by inhaling asbestos particles into the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen.
Mesothelioma is a particularly deadly cancer as it can go undetected for many years. It can take 10-50 years after exposure for symptoms to arise and is easy to misdiagnose.
Compensation for Grinding Machine Operators
An estimated 8 million people in the U.S. have been exposed to asbestos, and lawsuits are being filed on a regular basis to compensate victims. Thousands of families have been affected by the loss of earnings or loss of life due to being unknowingly exposed to asbestos in the workplace.
It’s essential that you speak to a lawyer who specializes in mesothelioma law to progress your case.
Statutes of limitations vary per state, but an injury lawsuit can generally be filed up to 3 years of diagnosis, and family members can file a wrongful death claim within 3 years of death.
If you were a grinding machine operator exposed to asbestos and you’ve since developed mesothelioma, contact our Justice Support Team today.