A molder is a person who makes and utilizes molds to create products from polymers and plastics. Molders working with the injection molding process are considered skilled workers. The types of molded plastic products that molders create are practically infinite. They often call for special attention or unique processes to mold. For these reasons molders were often highly paid. The companies and employers who required this unique set of skills couldn’t easily find replacement workers.
Injection molding is a process where plastics are injected into a pre-cast mold after being made soft by being exposed to heat. The machines that monitor the plastic cast thickness and subtle pressures are operated by molders. Cold molding is a different process molders employ. Up until 1980, cold molding of plastics had been a blend of polymer cement and the asbestos fibers that gave it its strength. Incredible amounts of asbestos dust were discharged in the mixing area during the molding and mixing processes for these plastics. Open mixers and hoppers and molding chambers without seals made for a working place environment filled with additives, chemicals and asbestos in the air.
Asbestos and Molding
In many, if not most occupations, people generally accept that there is at least a small risk of work-related injuries. Even as such, almost everyone in America believes and expects that their safety is a top priority to their employers and overseeing government agencies. But it wasn’t until recently, though, as relates to asbestos exposure, that many molders were required to wear respirators in circumstances filled with asbestos dust in the air they paid to breath.
Molders suffering from exposure to asbestos throughout the production and molding of plastic parts were often further exposed in their private lives. Asbestos was widely used in consumer products before 1980 and as producers and users, the molders were exposed to incredible amounts of the carcinogen. Also, the diseases asbestos cause, unlike regular work-related injuries which are usually easily seen and recognized after the accident, might take anywhere from 20 to 50 years to show up. Because of the incredible lag time between the onset of symptoms and the original contact with asbestos fiber, molders may not connect the present health condition with the job they had so many years ago.