Roads are as involved a construction project as any other, and require road graders and other machines to complete. Asbestos is found in roadways throughout North America and, therefore, puts road machine operators at a particular high risk. It may occur naturally in gravel or may have been added to the asphalt as a means to strengthen, fireproof and waterproof it.
Dirt and gravel roads are becoming a rarity, but are still in existence. Since asbestos can occur naturally in the rocks used to make gravel, the simple act of driving a car across these roads when dry can create a hazard as dust containing these fibers can be kicked into the air and then carried off by winds. Certain types of dirt may also contain asbestos and can pose a health risk when used on roadways. In accordance to a study, asbestos had been detected as far as 200 feet off the road even when traffic on the roadway was at a minimum.
Asbestos and Road Machine Operation
Road machine operators can also be exposed to asbestos while working in gravel pits and when coming into contact with older piping and cement ducts. The force created by the equipment used may release fibers into the air, again through dust particles invisible to the naked eye. A construction worker can be exposed to the asbestos and must wear any necessary safety equipment in order to prevent the inhalation of the fibers. Although new gravel is screened for asbestos contamination, road machine operators are at risk whenever assigned to work on an older road. Precautions must be taken to ensure the worker’s safety. If asbestos is suspected, a fully licensed and trained professional should be assigned to the task. Other prevention methods include wearing a mask and a ventilator and working only in a well-ventilated area.
The machinery used by road machine operators can also have an increased risk of exposure. The equipment may become very hot and the friction caused during use may create a spark, creating a possibility for fire. Asbestos had been used in order to help prevent such risks as it is widely known for being heat resistant and the worker may become exposed by simply operating such machinery or when repairing or replacing parts on the machinery such as gaskets. Such an activity can release dust containing asbestos fibers into the air.