Draftsmen, also known as drafters, work in the architectural, construction, and mining industry. They are responsible for drawing up the plans and designs of structures, both above ground and below. These initial designs first come from designers or architectural planners and the draftsmen draw them according to specifications. These drawings are highly technical and used as plans during construction. Good draftsmen have excellent hand-eye coordination, understand mechanical drawing, read blueprints, and are willing to work alongside builders during the construction of large projects.
While employment as a draftsman seems like a risk-free occupation, working so closely with above ground and underground construction exposes them to dangerous contaminants such as asbestos. While draftsmen have little to do with the actual construction of the structures and plans they draw up, occasions often arise where they are required to visit the job site during planning or when changes are called for. A draftsman cannot produce a good draft without these visits.
Draftsmen and Asbestos
During the times when draftsmen are working onsite, they are frequently at risk of exposure to asbestos. The majority of draftsmen who have later developed asbestos-related medical conditions were working in mines. In mines, asbestos fibers in the air have nowhere else to go, so they end up circulating in these small, confined spaces over and over again. In mines, asbestos exposure can occur even when not working with asbestos-containing products and materials from the surface. This is because asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that is found in the ground. In some mines, the natural asbestos levels can be so high that activity at the mine exposes the air at the surface for miles around.
A draftsman’s exposure to asbestos, however, is not limited to those who worked at mines. Any construction site can lead to asbestos exposure. The greatest risk stems from construction jobs that occurred before the 1980s. During this period, new asbestos laws were passed forbidding its use in new construction. The next greatest risk is working on a job site where an older building is being demolished. During demolition, high quantities of asbestos can be released into the air.
Draftsmen have another problem with asbestos that many others working at these job sites don’t. Draftsmen often visit job sites in their regular civilian clothing, while many other workers wear special protective clothing. Because of this, asbestos fibers can stick to the clothing and be carried back to a vehicle, office, or home.