Industrial Engineers Industrial engineers are responsible for examining the processes of a company and determining the most efficient means to operate. They also typically implement their recommendations to oversee a successful result. To properly execute the improvements within the business, an industrial engineer must be familiar with almost every operating aspect of the business. A large portion of industrial engineers work in manufacturing, while another significant percentage work in distribution. The job often requires extensive time spent in large industrial facilities. The breadth of knowledge required can force the industrial engineer to examine and be present in almost any area of an industrial setting, exercising a high degree of flexibility.
Industrial Engineers and Asbestos Many of the items produced and distributed between the 1940s and the 1980s utilized asbestos. Sheet metal manufacturing is a good example of a process where asbestos fibers were released into the air in significant quantities during the manufacturing process. During that time, industrial engineers often risked exposure to asbestos, which could cause mesothelioma. Not only could it have put these engineers in danger though. Their families might also have been at risk because airborne asbestos fibers can be brought home on clothing. Dust and other materials on clothes is a common cause for indirect asbestos exposure. Beginning in the late 1970s, laws were established to protect workers from being exposed to asbestos. Many of the factories and industrial settings common for industrial engineers began programs to remove and retrofit equipment and materials using asbestos. However, industrial engineers were often called upon to oversee and implement the task of refitting a facility to conform to government codes regarding asbestos. Inspecting and designing an abatement plan meant that industrial engineers were often the first responders to investigate and be in the presence of asbestos. Without proper training or safety equipment, the retrofitting tasks necessary could further expose industrial engineers to asbestos-containing materials. For that reason, industrial engineers are among the professionals with the highest risk of exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is the cause of mesothelioma, a cancer of the lungs. The disease can stay dormant for periods of 20 to 50 years, exhibiting symptoms only in later stages. Fortunately, the disease has been successfully treated when discovered before it reaches its later stages. Therefore, it's important that industrial engineers who suspect exposure to asbestos be screened as early as possible to determine if there is any possibility of developing mesothelioma cancer.