Caterpillar Inc. employees exposed to asbestos
Interestingly, the company is the leading manufacturer of wheel loaders in the world right now, but it actually produces over 400 different types of machinery, such as tracked tractors, backhoe loaders, locomotives, motor graders, and hydraulic excavators. With products and components made in 110 facilities across the world, Caterpillar Inc. has 51 plants in the U.S. You should know that it also manufactures the following, which, during the last century, involved working with asbestos and, inevitably, being exposed to it:
- on-road trucks
- natural gas engines
- gas turbines
- automatic transmissions
- diesel engines
- electronic products
The company divided the products, services, and technologies into 3 principal business lines: machinery, engines, and financial products for sale to private and governmental entities. It also reported that it uses 4 business segments: the construction industry, resource industry, power systems industry, and financial products industry. Sadly, during the last century, Caterpillar Inc. made use of a tremendous amount of asbestos to manufacture automotive components such as brakes, clutches, brake linings, gaskets, hood liners, and engine parts.
Asbestos was ideal for insulating vehicle components because it cannot be set on fire and because it is extremely durable. It would also reduce friction within the components in which it was found as insulation. In the past, drum and disc brakes were manufactured with 35% to 60% asbestos. Alarmingly, today, companies in the U.S. are still allowed to sell auto components that contain asbestos. This can endanger the health of automotive workers and auto mechanics, as these workers have to handle and, inevitably, disturb these vehicle components. As a result, numerous brake and clutch parts continue to have up to 35% asbestos.
The following are the occupational groups Caterpillar Inc. exposed to asbestos in the facilities of the company during the last century and the employees from other industries that were also exposed to asbestos due to handling and disturbing the products of this company:
A disturbing 2018 study from Epidemiology: Open Access estimates that 730,000 workers in the U.S. are at high risk of asbestos exposure from brake repairs alone today. This is because asbestos is still allowed in vehicle components nowadays. Other vehicle parts that would contain significant amounts of asbestos during the last century were air conditioning housing, soundproofing, adhesive, woven asbestos backing, and decal stripes.