Heavy Equipment Mechanics Roles and Responsibilities
As with any skilled profession, it’s the responsibility of a heavy equipment mechanic to troubleshoot issues and implement changes.
The key roles of a heavy equipment mechanic are:
- Cleaning heavy equipment
- Fixing universal joints
- Identifying potential issues before they arise
- Maintaining machinery and performing routine checks
- Repairing machines
- Rebuilding engines
- Servicing machines
- Tuning engines
Unfortunately, many of these duties put workers at risk of asbestos exposure.
Brake Repair and Removal
Heavy equipment mechanics were exposed to asbestos in many ways, but one of the most common was though brake repair and removal.
Asbestos-containing brake pads were often used on heavy equipment until the dangers of this toxic material were realized in 1980. Before this point, asbestos was a commonly used substance to fireguard and protect both workers and equipment in manufacturing settings.
However, asbestos would flake off during the repairing and removal process and could have become inhaled by the mechanics.
Other Asbestos Exposure
Once asbestos becomes airborne, it is incredibly difficult to control. The tiny fibers can carry in the air and become attached to shoes, clothing, and hair, which can carry the asbestos to other areas (such as the shared canteen, vehicles, and the home).
Other areas of concern for heavy equipment mechanics include the maintenance and repair of:
Did You Know?
A 2009 study looked into the potential risks to mechanics repairing heavy equipment and found that the levels of asbestos-containing products resulted in an exposure below the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s standard.
Experts believe that, despite the persistent scraping, hammering, drilling, and cleaning of parts during an 8-hour shift, most of the asbestos would have worn away with friction before it came to routine maintenance. This is good news for the mechanics, as they were exposed to less asbestos than was initially realized.