Industries Affected by Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma Overview

Asbestos is a fire resistant, naturally occurring mineral that has been used since the Industrial Revolution as insulation and tensile strength additive construction, ship building, and other various industries.  The Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) requires that employers ?furnish to each of his employees employment and place of employment which are free from recognized hazards?? [29 USC 654].  In order to operate in environments where recognized hazards are present, OSHA promulgates standards and guidelines that employers and employees are required to follow for their safety.  Asbestos standards and guidelines are broken down into three industries:  general industry [29 CFR 1910], shipyard employment [29 CFR 1915], construction industry [29 CFR 1926].  Asbestos related-standards and guidelines are typically found in Subsection Z of the relevant industry guidelines.

Mesothelioma in the Construction Industry

Until the mid-1970s, asbestos was commonly used in building construction to increase the tensile strength of concrete slabs and pillars, as general insulation, and as insulation around piping and boilers.  From the Great Depression to the 1970s, asbestos was commonly applied in spray form, exposing workers to airborne asbestos particles that could easily be inhaled into the lungs.  Since asbestos cannot be broken down by the body, the asbestos particles remain in the lungs causing Mesothelioma and other forms of lung cancer. Today, asbestos is still commonly used in roofing tiles, slating, and continues to be used as a strengthening additive in cement.

Section 1926 regulates asbestos exposure in all work that involves: demolition or salvage of structures where asbestos is present [1926.1101(a)(1)]; removal or encapsulation of materials containing asbestos [1926.1101(a)(2)]; construction, alteration, repair, installation, and/or cleanup involving asbestos [1926.1101(a)(3)-(5)].  In any of these situations, employers and employees are required to follow the guidelines for safe handling of asbestos.  These groupings typically apply across industries that use asbestos.

Mesothelioma in the Shipping Industry

Like the construction industry, asbestos was commonly used in shipyards to insulate pipes, gaskets, boilers and engines to prevent heat gain or loss.  The fact that asbestos was lightweight made it even more useful in ships.  The peak of asbestos use in ship yards came during WWII when demand for ships was at an all time high.  Section 1915 regulates the standards and guidelines for asbestos use in shipyards. 

Mesothelioma in General Industry

The general industry standards are covered by section 1910 and apply to asbestos exposure in any workplace that is not either shipbuilding or building construction.  The most common example of general industry exposure occurs in auto repair shops, particularly auto repair shops specializing in brake and clutch repair.  For decades, asbestos was used in brake pads, break drums, and clutches.  As such, mesothelioma risk can often occur during brake and clutch repairs.  Section 1910 covers the standards and guidelines that must be followed in general industry cases.