Asbestos minerals are silicate compounds that can be woven into durable threats for industrial uses. These fibers used to be a staple of the manufacturing, construction, and automotive industries because they are resistant to heat and don’t conduct electricity. However, these injuries were forced to abandon most asbestos-containing products once the scientific community revealed that asbestos exposure leads to mesothelioma.
While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the use of asbestos in construction materials, the same can’t be said of car parts. Automotive workers are still in danger of occupational asbestos exposure because brakes, clutches, and other vehicle parts still contain this dangerous mineral. For this reason, it’s critical that employers provide their workers with appropriate safety gear and training opportunities.
Because most vehicle manufacturers chose to stop using asbestos in the late 1990s, the biggest risk to mechanics is older and aftermarket parts. In other words, a worker can easily inhale asbestos fibers just from repairing an old car, especially if they ordered parts from China or India. This doesn’t mean that new cars are safe, however; in fact, many new luxury imports are constructed with asbestos products.
Car parts that may contain asbestos fibers include:
- Brake pads and linings
- Hood liners
- Clutch assemblies
- Valve rings
- Heat seals
It’s important to note that the parts themselves are not inherently dangerous. A mechanic is only at risk if the asbestos fibers are disturbed and break loose from the part. In this scenario, anyone who happens to be within the vicinity could unknowingly ingest or inhale the carcinogenic fibers.
Over time, asbestos exposure can lead to the following fatal conditions:
- Pleural mesothelioma
- Peritoneal mesothelioma
- Pericardial mesothelioma
- Abdominal cancers
- Lung cancer
If you’re a mechanic, you can protect yourself by following the safety guidelines posted on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website. OSHA recommends that mechanics always assume they’re handling asbestos as a best safety practice, especially when working with clutches and brakes.
There are also steps you should take after you’re done working on a vehicle. Per OSHA guidelines, “Personal hygiene, such as frequent hand washing with soap or detergent, should be stressed. Changing from soiled work clothes into clean clothes before leaving work provides additional protection against bringing asbestos into the home environment. A laundry service with facilities for cleaning asbestos contaminated clothing must be provided for any asbestos-contaminated work clothes.”
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The United States is one of the few developed countries that hasn’t outright banned asbestos products. Unfortunately, recent litigation and the EPA’s latest SNUR may be introducing dangerous changes to the asbestos product landscape. If you’ve suffered asbestos exposure due to the negligence of your employer, contact Shrader & Associates, L.L.P. Our award-winning and nationally-recognized legal team can investigate your case, research the negligent party, and help you pursue damages that alleviate your medical debts. With our guidance, you can hold your employer responsible for their actions and protect other people from suffering a similar fate.
Contact Shrader & Associates, L.L.P.at (877) 958-7920 to schedule a free case evaluation.