Millwrights and Mesothelioma

Millwrights are expert metal-workers who specialize in the installation, maintenance and removal of industrial equipment and heavy machinery. Because of this unique skill set, millwrights play a critical role in many processing and manufacturing companies. Although millwrights primarily work with metals, their job often requires interaction with other parts and machinery as well, including those that may contain cancer-causing asbestos.

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Millwrights Roles and Responsibilities

Millwrights are craftspeople who primarily work with metal, typically for large machinery and equipment. Millwrights are often responsible for installing, repairing, maintaining and replacing large machinery and become true experts in their components. Millwrights usually follow blueprints or drawings when initially planning and implementing machinery.

Millwrights work in an array of industries, including:

  • Building equipment contractors
  • Commercial construction
  • Commercial and industrial machinery
  • Motor vehicle parts manufacturing

Millwrights are often found in mills and other manufacturing facilities because of their ability to modify unique pieces of heavy machinery.

All millwrights complete technical training, which includes an apprenticeship. This gives them the skills they need to become journeymen and begin working independently. It’s estimated that approximately 40,000 millwrights are currently employed throughout the United States.

Millwrights and Asbestos Exposure

Millwrights working with equipment and machinery that contain asbestos in any form can be exposed to asbestos.

Before the 1980s, asbestos was used heavily in the manufacturing and industrial industries and took many forms, including:

  • Sprays
  • Coatings
  • Epoxies
  • Insulation

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Asbestos-based insulation was commonly used in generators, large turbines and boilers, all of which are serviced by millwrights.

In the past, millwrights were also often exposed to asbestos through their protective clothing and masks. Asbestos is heat and fire resistant and its former use in clothing, gloves and masks helped millwrights work in extreme environments.Ironically, this protective clothing put millwrights at risk of asbestos exposure as any inhaled fibers can develop into mesothelioma.

Millwrights and Asbestos Exposure Today

Today, asbestos exposure in millwrights is most likely to occur when repairing, maintaining or removing older machinery that was built when asbestos was commonly used.

When millwrights cut into metal or other components containing asbestos, they become exposed to the asbestos. Older asbestos is often damaged or degraded, making particles more likely to become airborne and further increasing the risk that dangerous asbestos exposure will occur.

Although the danger of asbestos is clearly documented, asbestos continues to be mined and used in products created throughout the world. Most of the United States has stopped using asbestos, but it can still be found in some products, including imports.

It’s critical that millwrights take precautions to protect themselves and wear a respirator, especially when cutting, sanding or otherwise disturbing machinery or equipment that may contain asbestos.

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The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry currently recognizes millwrights as one of the primary occupations at risk for asbestos exposure.

Millwrights and Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a deadly, merciless form of cancer that develops after exposure to asbestos. When millwrights disturb asbestos and inhale asbestos fibers, those fibers can get stuck in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart. Over time, those fibers trigger a mutation in the surrounding cells, slowly transforming them into cancer.

The link between mesothelioma and asbestos exposure is now well known, and most employers take precautions to protect millwrights from the asbestos exposure that leads to mesothelioma. As examples, protective materials no longer contain asbestos and safety procedures exist for handling machinery that may result in asbestos exposure.

Unfortunately, the dangers of asbestos weren’t always known. Mesothelioma wasn’t discovered until the 1970s, and it still took scientists another decade to convince most of the world that asbestos was a dangerous substance. Millwrights were needlessly exposed to asbestos in the meantime, and many of them are only just beginning to see the consequences of this negligence.

Mesothelioma takes 10-50 years to develop after the initial exposure to asbestos. Therefore, many millwrights who were in asbestos-laden environments decades ago are only just developing symptoms now.

Compensation for Millwrights

Many millwrights who have developed mesothelioma have received substantial settlements and payouts. Millwrights who are exposed to asbestos due to negligence and later develop mesothelioma are often awarded compensation to help cover medical expenses and necessary lifestyle changes, as well as a victim’s pain, suffering and loss of life.

If you’re a millwright who was exposed to asbestos or diagnosed with mesothelioma, get in touch with our Justice Support Team to find out what you may be entitled to.

Author:Stephanie Kidd

Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network

Stephanie Kidd

Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

Last modified: May 22, 2019

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