High Risk Jobs for Asbestos Exposure

High-Risk Jobs for Asbestos Exposure

Recognizing Asbestos Risks and Regulations

Asbestos has long been recognized as a serious health hazard. Despite regulations, many workers who are involved in industries that are related to asbestos abatement throughout Colorado, still face the risk of asbestos exposure on the job. We’d like to discuss high-risk industries and professions, outline safety protocols, and discuss workers’ rights regarding asbestos in the workplace.

At-Risk Industries and Professions

Several industries and jobs carry a higher risk of asbestos exposure, necessitating thorough asbestos abatement in Denver.

Construction Workers

Construction workers face one of the highest risks of asbestos exposure, especially those involved in demolition, disaster restoration, renovation, electrical work, plumbing, insulation installation, roofing, and carpentry.

Firefighters and Emergency Responders

Firefighters risk exposure when battling fires in older buildings where asbestos-containing materials may be present. The destruction of these materials can release asbestos fibers into the air.

Industrial and Factory Workers

Workers in factories producing insulation, paper, textiles, chemicals, cement, and mechanical equipment may be exposed to asbestos.

Auto Mechanics

Auto mechanics work with car parts that often still contain asbestos, particularly in brake pads and clutches.


While asbestos mining has ceased in the U.S., miners working with other minerals like talc and vermiculite may still be at risk due to natural asbestos contamination.


Teachers may be exposed to asbestos in schools, particularly those built before 1980. Records suggest that nearly a third of the nation’s schools may contain asbestos products. As these buildings age, asbestos materials can deteriorate and release harmful fibers, increasing the risk of exposure for teachers.

Asbestos Exposure: Safety Protocols and Protective Measures

To minimize the risk of asbestos exposure, workers and employers should follow safety protocols. Here is a list of examples, by no means meant to represent all safety protocol.

Proper Training: Employers must provide comprehensive training on asbestos hazards and proper handling procedures.

Potential asbestos-containing material (drywall, ceiling texture, flooring, etc.) should be tested by a certified Asbestos Building Inspector. This is required by law when more than 32 square feet of material has been damaged or removed.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Workers should use appropriate PPE, including respirators, disposable coveralls, gloves, and eye protection.

Containment: Asbestos-containing materials should be properly contained and sealed to prevent fiber release.

Wet Methods: When working with asbestos, use wet methods to minimize dust and fiber release.

HEPA Vacuums: Use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuums for cleanup to prevent asbestos fibers from becoming airborne.

Proper Disposal: Follow strict guidelines for the disposal of asbestos-containing materials.

Regular Health Monitoring: Workers in high-risk occupations should undergo regular medical examinations to detect early signs of asbestos-related diseases.

Workers’ Rights Regarding Asbestos

  • Right to Know: Employers must inform workers about the presence of asbestos in the workplace and provide proper training.
  • Right to Protection: Workers have the right to appropriate PPE and safety measures when working with or around asbestos.
  • Right to Medical Examinations: Workers exposed to asbestos above permissible exposure limits have the right to medical examinations at the employer’s expense.
  • Right to Records: Workers have the right to access their medical and exposure records.
  • Right to File Complaints: Workers can file confidential complaints with OSHA if they believe their workplace is unsafe due to asbestos.
  • Protection from Retaliation: It’s illegal for employers to retaliate against workers for exercising their rights under OSHA regulations.

Asbestos Testing: Ensuring Safety

While occupational asbestos exposure remains a concern, proper awareness, safety protocols, and enforcement of workers’ rights can significantly reduce the risks. Workers in high-risk industries should stay informed about asbestos hazards, follow safety procedures diligently, and not hesitate to exercise their rights to a safe workplace.

Employers must prioritize worker safety by implementing and maintaining asbestos testing and overall management programs.

Workers’ rights regarding asbestos exposure are generally consistent across industries, as they are primarily governed by OSHA regulations. However, there may be some differences in how these rights are implemented or additional protections in certain high-risk industries. While these rights apply across industries, there may be some differences. Higher-risk industries may have more stringent monitoring and medical surveillance requirements. Some industries, like chlor-alkali plants, may still legally use asbestos, potentially requiring additional safety measures. Industries with potential for emergency asbestos exposure (e.g., firefighting) have specific protocols and rights related to post-incident medical evaluations.

While the fundamental rights are consistent, the specific implementation and additional protections may vary based on the level of asbestos risk in different industries.