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Crane Operators and Mesothelioma

tall cranes in construction site

Crane operators are employed in commercial construction and demolition, iron and steel mills, mining, power generation, highway and bridge construction, industrial shipyards, railroad transportation and maritime transportation. Crane operators may operate an overhead crane that has a hook and line mechanism attached to a boom or they may operate mobile cranes mounted on trucks or rail cars.

How Crane Operators Were Exposed to Asbestos

Crane operators are among the heavy equipment operators whose jobs include the occupational hazard of exposure to asbestos. Crane operators operate mechanical booms or tower and cable equipment to lift and move materials and products. They often work at larger demolition sites removing construction debris and building materials that may contain asbestos. Asbestos is a known carcinogen and closely associated with malignant mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung and abdomen.  Crane operators may also move equipment like turbines and pumps that are insulated with asbestos.

Asbestos was widely used in building materials from the 1940s through the 1970s. Many older buildings have asbestos insulation and asbestos-containing materials. When disturbed by demolition or renovation activities, asbestos fibers can become airborne toxic dust and be inhaled if crane operators are not wearing respirators.

Crane operators were employed in shipyards where exposure to asbestos was prevalent. Starting during World War II, asbestos was used extensively in the construction of ships, including military ships that put veterans who served on military ships at risk as well crane operators and ship salvage workers.  Crane also have brakes which contained asbestos.

Are Crane Operators Still At Risk of Exposure to Asbestos?

Yes, crane operators remain at risk of exposure to asbestos because many older buildings built before 1980 still have asbestos materials. The demolition of the buildings may release asbestos fibers into the air, if all asbestos isn’t carefully removed prior to demolition.

Cranes are a familiar sign of construction activity on the skylines of New York and other cities. A number of crane operators worked among the demolition crews at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They may have been exposed to asbestos dust during the Ground Zero cleanup activities, unfortunately.

Why Are Crane Operators Still At Risk of Developing Mesothelioma?

A crane operator exposed to asbestos as far back as the 1950s or 1960s remains at risk of developing mesothelioma. The symptoms of mesothelioma take 15 years to 60 years to appear. Even if you haven’t worked around asbestos in many years, you still may be diagnosed with mesothelioma from exposure long ago.

ALCOA

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