Asbestos Exposure in Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers are efficiency experts, working with systems and processes to make companies faster, more productive, and more profitable. However, some industrial engineers worked at sites that contain asbestos, an environmental hazard that can cause cancers like mesothelioma.

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Industrial Engineers and Asbestos Exposure

Industrial engineers are at risk of asbestos exposure any time they work in an environment where asbestos is present. When asbestos is disturbed, microscopic fibers become airborne and can be accidentally inhaled by anyone who is nearby.

Many of the industries that hire industrial engineers worked with high volumes of asbestos, particularly between World War II and the early 1980s. Though asbestos is recognized as a dangerous substance now, that wasn’t always the case.

Many industries are now notorious for repeatedly exposing their workers to asbestos, including:

Did You Know?

Approximately 70% of industrial engineers work in the manufacturing industry, spending their time both in offices and boardrooms, as well as on the manufacturing floor. The manufacturing industry is heavily linked to asbestos exposure, with many employees developing diseases later in life.

While the vast majority of these industries phased out asbestos once the medical dangers became known, it was too late for the tens of thousands of Americans who have died as a result of asbestos-related diseases. Asbestos can still be present in older buildings and machinery, putting workers at risk even do this day.

To further complicate matters, asbestos isn’t always easy to identify. Asbestos was a common ingredient in other materials, including cement, textiles, and sealants, making it difficult to find.

Workers can repeatedly be exposed to asbestos throughout their career without even realizing that they are working with it.

Because asbestos was used so heavily within manufacturing environments where industrial engineers often worked, many industrial engineers have been exposed to asbestos through their day-to-day work.

Even today, with the hazards well recognized, industrial engineers are still at risk of asbestos exposure.

Industrial Engineers Roles and Responsibilities

Industrial engineers are hired by companies to improve their efficiency and profitability, often overseeing many aspects of a business at a single time. Industrial engineers must learn all the ins and outs of a business before they can make valuable recommendations.

Industrial engineers may take a hands-on approach to learning, spending considerable amounts of time observing and analyzing a working environment.

Industrial engineers can also be tasked with specific projects, such as:

  • Remodeling
  • Renovation
  • Retrofitting

In many cases, industrial engineers are presented with a business problem, such as an assembly line that moves too slow, and are asked to develop a solution. When working on these projects, industrial engineers oversee numerous components, including implementation, cost, safety, and long-term procedures.

Industrial engineers may be given a range of tasks and be expected to:

  • Analyze processes, schedules, specs, and work environments to understand existing production methods
  • Implement, monitor, or improve quality control procedures
  • Improve cost-efficiency and financial control
  • Improve the efficiency of providing manufactured products or services
  • Oversee the status of major projects, meeting with stakeholders as required

An industrial engineer typically requires a Bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering although some hold their degrees in mechanical, manufacturing, electrical, or general engineering.

The current career trajectory for industrial engineers is excellent, with higher than average employment growth rates.

While the future outlook for industrial engineers is promising, there are serious environmental hazards that must be taken into consideration.

Industrial Engineers and Mesothelioma

Industrial engineers who are exposed to asbestos may develop deadly conditions, including mesothelioma. Asbestos fibers that are inhaled or ingested can become lodged in the tissue lining of the abdomen, lung, or heart.

Over time, the lodged fibers can cause nearby cells to mutate into an aggressive and rarely curable form of cancer known as mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma typically takes 20-50 years to develop after asbestos fibers are first inhaled. As a result, many of the industrial engineers diagnosed with mesothelioma now were exposed decades ago, before asbestos dangers were fully known. Tragically, mesothelioma is typically fatal.

Compensation for Industrial Engineers

If you’re an industrial engineer who worked on sites where asbestos was present, you may develop mesothelioma. Many mesothelioma victims are eligible for compensation to cover lost wages, medical expenses, and suffering.

Industrial engineers with mesothelioma can contact our Justice Support Team to learn more about their legal options.

Mesothelioma Support Team
Stephanie KiddWritten by:


Stephanie Kidd grew up in a family of civil servants, blue-collar workers, and medical caregivers. Upon graduating Summa Cum Laude from Stetson University, she began her career specializing in worker safety regulations and communications. Now, a proud member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network, Stephanie serves as a voice for mesothelioma victims and their families.

View 3 Sources
  1. LiveScience, “Industrial Engineering.” Retrieved from Accessed on May 5, 2018.
  2. US Department of Labour, “Industrial Engineers.” Retrieved from Accessed on May 5, 2018.
  3., “A Brief History of ASbestos Use and Associated Health Risks.” Retrieved from Accessed on May 5, 2018.
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