Asbestos Exposure in Tool and Die Makers

The production industry typically relies on working environments that expose employees to fire and heat. As a safety precaution, asbestos was used for heat protection. However, asbestos is now known to cause cancer. A high number of tool and die makers have contracted mesothelioma and other illnesses.

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Tool and Die Makers and Asbestos Exposure

Tool and die makers have highly specialized skills that enable them to construct entire machines. Unfortunately, this also means that they often work in dangerous environments.

As tool and die makers frequently worked with heat (to melt and meld machine parts), they may have come in contact with asbestos.

Asbestos is a toxic material frequently used for its heat and fire-resistant properties. It was commonly used as insulation around forges and boilers, which tool and die makers worked with on a daily basis. The insulation made the forges more effective, though it came with severe consequences.

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Contact With Friable Asbestos Insulation

Tool and die makers were often in charge of replacing insulative asbestos when it became older and less operational. Asbestos is not harmful while it remains intact, but when the fibers become old and friable, they pose a significant threat to the health of workers.

A study first published in 1983 looked at the correlation between asbestos and cancer deaths among machinists. It concluded that machinists, due to the nature of their profession, have a high risk of developing occupational mesothelioma from asbestos exposure.

From 1980 onwards, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have ensured that asbestos is more regulated in the workplace, but despite the dangers, its use is still not banned in the United States.

Tool and Die Makers During World War II

Tool and die makers didn’t always work in factories. During World War II, many workers were sent to local shipyards to construct machinery needed for building and maintaining ships. Shipyards were notorious areas for high asbestos exposure as it was used extensively in shipbuilding and repair.

Tool and die makers were at a lower risk of asbestos exposure compared to other shipyard workers such as boilermakers, welders, platers, and pipefitters. But they may still have worked in areas that contained a significant amount of asbestos dust.

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Tool and Die Makers Roles and Responsibilities

Tool and die makers created machines and machine parts by heating and bending metal. Unlike regular machinists, they were responsible for producing the entire apparatus, as well as adjustments, and were often regarded as highly skilled.

Tool and die makers were responsible for converting metal into the devices needed in the production industry. This could range from making tools and clamps to forging and stamping metal implements. The job was centered around heating and melting metal, meaning that workers were around fire and heat throughout most of their working lives.

Tool and die makers roles included:

  • Adjusting machines for efficiency
  • Creating parts for machines
  • Making clamps and jogs
  • Making tools to be used for machine repairs
  • Modifying standard tools
  • Repairing machines

Most tool and die makers had further specialties, though some working in smaller factories may flit between each roll. In addition to the creation of parts, tool and die makers were responsible for ensuring their forges and boilers were running efficiently. They were required to check the temperature frequently.

Tool and Die Makers and Mesothelioma

While working on machines and equipment, tool and die makers often cut or ground down pieces of metal depending on what the engineer was trying to achieve. In doing this, asbestos dust circulated in the air and become inhaled.

Some employers would provide a mask to protect workers, but even in the best of cases, these were not always effective at keeping out microscopic asbestos fibers.

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How Asbestos Causes Mesothelioma

Once inhaled, tiny needle-like asbestos fibers can puncture the lungs, abdomen, and heart and attach themselves to the tissue lining. Over time, embedded fibers can irritate and inflame the tissue, triggering healthy cells to mutate into cancerous ones called mesothelioma cells.

As cancerous mesothelioma cells multiply, they clump and form tumors that spread to distant sites. Mesothelioma can take 20-50 years to develop, meaning that mesothelioma symptoms could be appearing just now in tool and die makers who worked around asbestos decades ago.

Access Asbestos Trust Funds

Compensation for treatment, loss of income, and other damages is available through Asbestos Trust Funds. Mesothelioma patients and veterans with asbestos-related illnesses may qualify.

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Compensation for Tool and Die Makers

Studies have proven that asbestos is highly dangerous to the body, which puts tool and die workers at great risk of developing asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma. Sadly, many large asbestos companies were aware of the dangers, meaning they knowingly put their workers in danger.

If you worked as a tool and die maker or machinist before the 1980s and you’ve since developed mesothelioma, you may qualify for legal compensation. Our Justice Support Team can connect you with important legal and medical resources. See all the ways we can help right now.

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: September 20, 2019

View 4 Sources
  1. Incidence of cancer among welders, platers, machinists and pipe fitters in shipyards and machine shops. Retrieved from: Accessed on July 7, 2018.
  2. Mesothelioma among machinists in railroad and other industries. Retrieved from: Accessed on July 7, 2018.
  3. Mesothelioma among machinists in railroad and other industries. Retrieved from: Accessed on July 7, 2018.
  4. Developing Asbestos Job Exposure Matrix Using Occupation and Industry Specific Exposure Data (1984–2008) in Republic of Korea. Retrieved from: Accessed on July 7, 2018.
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