A craftsman who works mostly with metal is known as a millwright. A millwright works mostly with types of machines and equipment that take great precision to use. A few of the major tasks of a millwright will include the installation of boilers, escalators, generators and giant turbines. Millwrights also take care of these machines as well as others, by repairing and maintaining them, or dismantling them if they are to be replaced. Those who work as millwrights have generally worked for years on machines that use asbestos as the insulating material, especially the boilers, generators and turbines. Some machines are also insulated with asbestos, and also have parts inside the generators and turbines that have been coated with the material. This is to control the heat that the friction causes, which helps to avoid fires.

Asbestos and Millwrights

It is normal for this machinery to need to be “sized” so that it can fit into its location. For this to occur, the millwright working on the machinery must grind, sand, saw or somewhat adjust the pieces so that they can fit properly. The insulation or other pieces that may contain asbestos are grinded or sanded, causing asbestos dust which would be circulated into the air and inhaled easily by workers.  When these machines had to be dismantled for either repair or disposal, the millwright doing the work may have easily been exposed to friable asbestos, or damaged asbestos, because these particles crumble easily, producing airborne dust. Millwrights usually wore clothing that helped protect them from the high heat and fire that they had to work with. However, the protective clothing that they wore was often produced from materials that also contained asbestos, which meant the asbestos was actually worn on their person. This protective gear could also have included face masks that contained asbestos, making the inhalation of the toxic fibers a regular occurrence for many. In recent times, millwrights no longer wear this type of gear; however, the proper protection is required when they work on older machines that may still contain asbestos insulation or parts that contain an asbestos coating.  In past decades, those who worked in the millwright profession have seen many colleagues who have been diagnosed and suffered with an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma, because of their very frequent exposure to it while working at their job.