Millwrights, the skilled craftsmen responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing industrial machinery, have played a vital role in the development of industries worldwide. Yet, their work, often involving heavy machinery, sometimes put them at risk of exposure to a silent and deadly danger: asbestos. In this blog post, we delve into the history of how millwrights were exposed to asbestos and the health consequences that followed.
The Asbestos Boom
During the 20th century, asbestos was celebrated as a miracle material. Its fire-resistant, insulating, and durable properties made it an ideal choice for various industrial applications. As a result, asbestos found its way into countless machines, components, and materials used in factories and industries, setting the stage for potential exposure to millwrights and other industrial workers.
Asbestos in Machinery
Asbestos was used in various forms within machinery:
Insulation: Asbestos was commonly used to insulate pipes, boilers, and other high-temperature equipment. Millwrights working on machine maintenance or repairs often encountered these asbestos-insulated components.
Gaskets and Seals: Asbestos was a key component in gaskets and seals due to its heat resistance and sealing properties. When millwrights replaced or repaired these parts, they could inadvertently release asbestos fibers.
Brakes and Clutches: Asbestos was used in brake linings and clutch facings for its friction and heat-resistance properties. Millwrights in the automotive and manufacturing industries were particularly at risk when working on these components.
While the role of millwrights in building and maintaining industries is indispensable, their history is also marked by the hidden dangers of asbestos exposure. Understanding this history highlights the importance of safety regulations and protective measures in modern industry to ensure that millwrights and other workers can carry out their duties without risking their health. Asbestos may have been a silent threat, but with knowledge and vigilance, it no longer has to be.