High-Risk Occupations

Asbestos is a danger to anyone who comes in contact with it. Before the risks were widely known, asbestos was used on many job sites. Workers were surrounded by asbestos-containing products for much of their careers. As a result, they were put at risk of serious or fatal diseases like cancer.

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High Risk Occupations for Asbestos Exposure

High-Risk Jobs for Asbestos Exposure

Throughout much of the 20th century, asbestos was everywhere. It was used across dozens of industries and in all branches of the U.S. military. This highly durable mineral was a popular choice among industry executives because it resisted heat, fire, and electricity. It was also abundant, making it easy and cost-effective to mine.

For over 5 decades, many jobs put people in contact with asbestos. Workers who constructed buildings and vehicles may have used asbestos-based products on a regular basis.

The brave men and women who served in the military put their lives on the line to defend our freedom. In the process, they lived in bases, drove vehicles, and used equipment made with asbestos.

At the time, these innocent people did not know that asbestos was dangerous. Due to a culture of secrecy, corporations concealed the health risks associated with asbestos.

Asbestos products can often be disturbed, as with the destruction of a building, for example. When this happens, tiny asbestos fibers enter the surrounding air. Workers can breathe in these fibers and suffer from long-term health problems.

Many workers are now being diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases decades after they were first exposed.

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What Jobs Posed a Risk?

Asbestos was present in dozens of products and worksites from the 1920s to the 1980s. Many jobs put workers at risk because asbestos was used so frequently. Frequent exposure to asbestos is linked to a higher risk of developing an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer.

These occupations include:

Aircraft Mechanics

Asbestos was used in aircraft parts that were exposed to high levels of heat and friction. This included brakes, brake pads, and engine components, among other parts. When aircraft mechanics would repair or remove these parts, asbestos fibers could fall on them or enter the air around them.

Automotive Mechanics

Certain car parts were built with asbestos to help them last longer. Parts that commonly used asbestos included brakes and clutches. Many auto mechanics came into contact with these items on a daily basis. As the mechanics manufactured and repaired vehicles, asbestos fibers spread through the air. In turn, the fibers could be easily inhaled.


Asbestos kept boilers, which generated heat and energy through steam, running longer and more efficiently. Doors, walls, and pipes in boiler rooms also frequently used asbestos. When boilermakers worked in these cramped rooms, they worked in a den of asbestos.

Cabinet Makers

Cabinet makers frequently used asbestos-containing materials on the job. Common asbestos-containing materials included adhesives, fiberboard, and paint. As cabinet makers used these materials, asbestos fibers entered the air around them.


A wide assortment of tools and building products used by carpenters contained asbestos. This included drywall, insulation, and plasters. Carpenters who worked on construction sites were at an increased risk from asbestos-based construction materials, too.

Coal Miners

15% of all coal mines are contaminated with asbestos fibers. In addition, coal mining equipment made before the 1980s frequently contained asbestos. This included hoisting machines, shuttle cars, and winces. When coal miners worked in cramped underground spaces, they were at risk of inhaling airborne asbestos fibers.

Construction Workers

Asbestos was very popular in the construction industry due to its fire-resistant properties. It was used to construct many residential and commercial buildings before 1980. Insulation, cement powders, and plasters often contained asbestos. Construction workers ran a high at risk of exposure when building, destroying, or handling asbestos-based materials.

Custodial Workers

Custodial workers were put in danger by many of the same risk factors that construction workers faced. The asbestos in insulation, shingling, or plaster could easily be disturbed during custodial work. As long-serving buildings like schools or offices aged, the risk only became greater for custodial workers.


When buildings made with asbestos caught fire, the asbestos fibers could become airborne. Firefighters who arrived to control the blaze may have inhaled the fibers without realizing the danger. For example, firefighters who were exposed to toxic dust during 9/11 may face health problems like cancer later in life.


Plumbers came into frequent contact with asbestos because the material resisted erosion and heat. Pipes, tanks, and ducts were often made with asbestos. Those who worked as plumbers before 1980 have a higher risk of developing mesothelioma.

Military Service Members

Military veterans make up a large percentage of mesothelioma cases. This is especially true for those who served in the U.S. Navy. Navy ships contained a variety of asbestos-based parts. Asbestos was also used in military vessels, vehicles, and bases. Exposure was highest among those who performed construction or maintenance jobs during their service.

Shipyard Workers

Asbestos was used in the construction of ships for decades. During construction or repairs, asbestos fibers were often released into the air. Deck coverings, floor tiles, and paint were just a few products on shipyards that contained asbestos. Anyone in the surrounding area would have been in danger of inhaling the asbestos fibers.


Welders frequently worked in buildings constructed with asbestos-containing materials. The equipment they worked with every day may have also contained asbestos, including pipes and welding rods. Welding was a high-risk occupation before 1980.

Legal Compensation for High-Risk Workers

If you developed mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease due to your exposure while on the job, it is not your fault. Many companies chose to make asbestos-containing products even though they knew the associated health risks.

These companies put profits over the lives of their innocent workers. As a result, many asbestos companies had to set up asbestos trust funds for those they wronged. These trust funds were mandated by federal courts.

These funds amount to over $30 Billion today — and are expected to grow. Working with an asbestos law firm can help you access these funds.

Sokolove Law has over 40 years of experience helping those exposed to asbestos get compensation. Our mesothelioma lawyers use their resources and experience to help build favorable cases for clients.

Mesothelioma compensation can help pay for:

  • Diagnostic scans
  • Insurance co-pays
  • Long hospital stays
  • Lost wages
  • Medications
  • Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatments
  • Travel expenses

Call (800) 647-3434 or contact Sokolove Law today for a free case review.

Author:Sokolove Law Team
Sokolove Law Team

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The Sokolove Law Content Team is made up of writers, editors, and journalists. We work with case managers and attorneys to keep site information up to date and accurate. Our site has a wealth of resources available for victims of wrongdoing and their families.

Last modified: June 28, 2022