Responsible for commercial construction and demolition, crane operators were and still are at high risk of asbestos exposure, since the building materials they work with often contain this carcinogenic mineral. This occupational category is also involved in mining, iron and steel mills, power generation, highway and bridge construction, as well as industrial shipyards. Their work consists of operating a crane - a mechanism which has a hook and line used to move objects from one place to another.
Since asbestos was highly present in building materials between 1920 and 1980, crane operators who are not provided with appropriate protective equipment are prone to inhaling or ingesting toxic asbestos fibers which may later cause awful diseases such as lung cancer or mesothelioma. It is important to keep in mind that these diseases occur after 20 to 50 years following exposure. Therefore, crane operators are strongly advised to undergo periodical medical examinations to ensure they are in good health.
In the case of crane operators, exposure to asbestos can take place in multiple ways. For instance, by demolishing old buildings which contain asbestos in their structure. When old buildings are torn down, toxic asbestos fibers will escape in the air, from where workers can easily breathe them in. Additionally, asbestos exposure can also stem from the environment crane operators work in, as asbestos-containing objects are often moved or carried around the work site. "I was in the first division deck dept and third division crane operator on the USS Puget Sound. I was sent into the anchor room with other shipmates to grind the paint off in the anchor room using a deck sander with no respirator for days," says a veteran.
Surprisingly, asbestos may be present in the very machine they operate. Some parts of the crane where asbestos might lurk are engine compartments, the brakes in wheels and the hoisting apparatus. Another way this occupational group may be exposed to asbestos is by moving asbestos-containing products, such as pumps or turbines insulated with the dangerous mineral.
Veterans who were crane operators during World War II should pay special attention to their health, as asbestos was employed in tremendous amounts in shipbuilding during that period of time. If you were a crane operator during the middle of the last century, you can easily recover the financial compensation you deserve with the help of a specialized attorney.
Finally, crane operators today are unfortunately not spared the danger of asbestos exposure, as they are often assigned the task of demolishing old buildings which contain asbestos. Moreover, those who worked at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks were exposed to high amounts of airborne asbestos fibers too if they did not wear respirators. Ideally, a building has to have asbestos removed from it before being demolished so the risk of crane operators of being in contact with carcinogenic fibers is minimal.