Although a drill press operator may appear to have a relatively simple job, it does require skill as well. A successful drill press operator must be able to read and understand directions clearly, have a strong ability to use math and problem solving skills, and understand and follow all safety standards. Most operators will need to attend specialized training provided by OSHA.
While all industrial jobs pose some kind of danger, employees are secure in the knowledge that numerous safety protocols designed to keep workers safe are in place and enforced by companies and the government. Unfortunately, several decades ago safety protocols were not around to protect those who worked with asbestos.
Drill Press Operators and Asbestos
In the past, drill press operators were not required to follow nearly as many safety procedures as they do today. One job many drill press operators are asked to do is work with various metals. Up until the late 1970s, asbestos was frequently used in metal fabrication. Asbestos was used in paints, various coatings and polishing compounds.
Asbestos can be divided into two major groups. There is a soft form of the mineral known as chrysotile and a harder form known as amphibole. Chrysotile was the most commonly used form of asbestos. Fortunately, the chrysotile type rarely causes mesothelioma, but can cause an illness known as asbestosis. The amphibole form is directly linked to mesothelioma, a lethal form of cancer.
Ironically, asbestos is a very powerful insulator and provided a high level of protection for building occupants. Asbestos can withstand high levels of heat and can protect against fire. Asbestos was also frequently used as an insulator for strong electrical currents as well. Furthermore, asbestos usage was approved in materials that became solids and bonded the deadly fibers. However, any disturbance of these solidified materials could cause the fibers to be released into the air. Weathering and deterioration can also result in fibers being released.
Asbestos exposure does not produce immediate symptoms. Workers were completely unaware their daily job was putting them at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma several decades into the future. Many people today remain unaware they are harboring a silent killer within their bodies as a result of their professions.