Asbestos Exposure in Mechanical Engineers

The role of a mechanical engineer combines engineering, physics, mathematics, and material sciences. Mechanical engineers analyze, design, manufacture, and maintain machinery, often in large factories, putting them at risk of asbestos exposure and developing mesothelioma.

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Mechanical Engineers and Asbestos Exposure

Mechanical engineers are required in many industries, including architectural, manufacturing, and transportation services. Many mechanical engineers also work in general-purpose machinery environments, operating on automotive parts and large machines.

Working with moving parts is a dangerous job in itself, but this line of work may also put mechanical engineers in contact with asbestos. Asbestos exposure is now known to cause rare diseases such as mesothelioma.

Mechanical engineers were most at risk of coming into contact with asbestos from the 1930s until the early 1980s. It was during this time that the toxic substance was widely used. Thousands of workers have become ill or lost their lives after inhaling asbestos fibers.

Did You Know?

A 2001 article looking at the connection of asbestos with mesothelioma found that mechanical engineering was one of the professions that showed a significantly elevated number of deaths due to the disease.

Asbestos was used for insulation and fireproofing, as it served as an excellent resistor to heat. It was used to cover electrical wires, pipes containing chemicals, and boilers. It was also frequently used to make brakes and gaskets, to help against friction.

Nowadays, asbestos is an internationally recognized occupational hazard and is illegal in over 50 countries, the U.S. unfortunately not included.

Compensation Awarded

A mesothelioma victim in the UK was awarded compensation posthumously after coming into contact with asbestos during his years as a mechanical engineer.

Before the 1970s, there were little to no safety precautions provided regarding asbestos, and in some cases, it was believed to protect workers against fires. The victim filed a lawsuit against his former employee, though sadly passed away before he could benefit from the payout.

Mechanical Engineers Roles and Responsibilities

Mechanical engineers are responsible for developing, designing, and maintaining machinery. Some engineers specialize in specific areas, such as in shipbuilding, or constructing generators, while others work on large industrial sites filled with heavy machinery.

Specific job duties can include:

  • Analyzing problems
  • Designing or redesigning mechanical devices
  • Developing devices
  • Overseeing the manufacturing process
  • Testing prototypes

Mechanical Engineers and Mesothelioma

Mechanical engineering is said to be one of the most dangerous professions with relation to asbestos exposure and the risk of developing mesothelioma.

For example, a 2003 Icelandic study found that there was an increased risk of mesothelioma in marine and nuclear engineers. Because many engineers were exposed to asbestos between 1950 and 1980, some workers are only just starting to develop symptoms of the disease.

Did You Know?

In 2015, a case arose in the UK of a man who died from mesothelioma just four weeks after receiving his diagnosis. The victim had worked as a mechanical engineer between 1971 and 1979 and believed it was during this period that he inhaled the deadly fibers.

Today there is still a slight risk, and employers hold the responsibility of providing workers with asbestos training and health and safety equipment. Breathing apparatus should always be worn when working in buildings containing contain old asbestos.

If you worked in buildings containing asbestos, it’s best to seek medical advice to ensure an early diagnosis is reached. Undergoing the right mesothelioma treatments can help extend survival and improve quality of life.

Compensation for Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Workers exposed to asbestos on the job who have since developed mesothelioma may be awarded compensation. Asbestos trust funds and lawsuit settlements are two options available to mesothelioma victims to obtain compensation for treatment costs and other damages.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s important to work with a lawyer specializing in mesothelioma law. The Mesothelioma Justice Network can help you learn more about your 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 2 Sources
  1. Mechanical Engineer. Retrieved from: Accessed on May 18, 2018.
  2. Family Of Former Mechanical Engineer Appeal For Information After Mesothelioma Death. Retrieved from: Accessed on May 18, 2018
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