Most crane and hoist men fall into the category of construction workers, widely considered the most risky of jobs regarding asbestos exposure. A closely related job to crane and hoist men is the derrick man which, although not a construction job, involves work on drilling rigs, both onshore and off. In another respect, crane and hoist men are very similar to heavy machinery operators. However, no matter the job categorization, all of these similar involve the potential for asbestos exposure.
Crane and hoist operators can work from enclosed cabs with highly advanced particulate filters, but most of them work in decidedly lower-tech settings. Most cranes and hoists used today are open-cab affairs, directly exposing crane and hoist operators to whatever may be floating in the air at the job site. Unlike other professions, no matter what year an individual worked as a crane and hoist operator, there is a danger of asbestos exposure.
Crane & Hoist Men and Asbestos
Buildings constructed before the ban of asbestos in the 1980s caused crane and hoist men to be directly exposed to new asbestos products as they were installed. Despite legislation enacted in the 1980s to discontinue the use of asbestos products, this didn’t automatically halt exposure. Because all buildings will require renovation or demolition one day, crane and hoist men will continue to be exposed to unregulated building materials. These older buildings containing asbestos materials release the carcinogen into the air during renovation and demolition. Furthermore, a great amount of asbestos is directly embedded in concrete, blocks, and between bricks in the mortar. Knocking these down or even just sanding them during refinishing can release millions of asbestos fibers into each cubic meter of surrounding air.
Some job sites are particularly at risk of exposing crane and hoist men to asbestos. Shipyards are a common work site for these workers as cranes are needed not only for the construction and repair of ships but to load and unload cargo. Before the 1980s, shipyards were rife with asbestos, whether they were naval or commercial. However, crane and hoist operators have more to worry about when it comes to asbestos exposure than the job site. The crane and hoists themselves may have older brake pads and gaskets on them that are made with asbestos. Eventually these parts will have to be replaced, and during replacement, exposure can be high.