Mixing operatives are an intricate part of a number of different industries, mixing solutions as diverse as rubber, soils, and chemicals. Throughout the decades when asbestos was used, mixing operators were at the forefront of the asbestos exposure lines. The chemical and construction industries frequently employ mixing operatives. The job requires a mixing operator to carefully and precisely mix ingredients to create a desired substance. Mixing dry ingredients can cause a massive dust cloud.
Asbestos was used and made up as much as 50 percent of the content in various building materials. Wallboard, corrugated and flat roofing sheets, siding, roof shingles, pipes, partitions and cladding are some materials used with asbestos-containing ingredients. Each of these products started out as a dry substance mixed by a mixing operator. Some operatives were required to scoop raw asbestos by hand into the mixtures, ostensibly to add strength and heat resistance to the material being mixed. They were rarely, if ever, provided with safety equipment to protect their noses and mouths, and thus often breathed in large quantities of whatever they were mixing.
Asbestos and Mixing
Nearly every job poses some kind of health risk to its employees. Employees rely on the government to force companies to adhere to laws regarding the safety of each worker. Unfortunately, workers in the industrial field have not always been protected. Many workers were placed in harm’s way due to asbestos exposure. The hard, heat tolerating substance has been used to save lives. Asbestos was used an insulator for electric currents or a protective layer to prevent against chemical erosion. It was often included in the dry substances used by mixing operatives.
One common dry substance is concrete. When concrete is wet and setting, the risk of asbestos exposure is relatively low. However, the person who mixed the dry ingredients would have been put at risk of asbestos exposure due to the dust cloud that would have been created. When a mixture such as concrete is set, the asbestos is bound and does not pose a risk. However, if the concrete is disturbed via drilling, cutting or sanding, the asbestos fibers could be released. Tragically, some employers knew of the dangers posed by the use of asbestos and chose not to reveal that information to their employees.