Operating engineers are at risk for asbestos exposure daily while performing job tasks such as building demolition, road reconstruction and other construction sites. Asbestos is found in a variety of places for the operating engineer including the equipment used as well as the pavement being worked on. Operating engineers use large pieces of mechanical equipment while at work. These types of machinery have been said to have asbestos within approximately 200 of its parts, including the brake pads and linings. Exposure to asbestos may come from the basic operation of the machinery, putting the engineer at risk on a daily basis just by performing his or her tasks while on a job site.

Road grader equipment may also expose the engineer to asbestos, but not necessarily by simply using the device. Before being regulated in the 1980’s, it was common practice to mix asbestos with asphalt as a means of strengthening and fire and waterproofing roadways. It may also be found in the pipes and cement ducts below the pavement. Although relatively safe when untouched, construction on roads may release fibers in the air that can be inhaled by operating engineers that are not properly protected from exposure. Road tunnels are considered particular high risk spots for asbestos exposure.

Asbestos and Operating Engineers

Fibers can also become airborne while on site for the demolition of an older building, especially those constructed before 1973. Asbestos can also be found in newer building materials such as those used in roofing and compounds as well as other applications. While working on a building that may contain asbestos-laden materials, it is of the utmost importance that licensed and trained professionals only remove the materials at a slow pace in order to reduce the risk of emitting dust into the air that may also contain the dangerous fibers.

Operating engineers not only face the risk of exposure to asbestos while on the job, but can also be at risk to exposing family members and friends. As the jobs are considered to be dirty and it is not uncommon for a worker to retire for the day covered in dust from the construction site, he or she may carry the fibers home on clothing. Therefore, it is of vital importance that clothing worn at the construction site be removed before leaving work to reduce the risk of secondhand exposure.

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