The job often required the boiler workers to use a claw hammer or sledgehammer to work around the boiler to file rough areas or to simply turn it into rubble for easier removal. As boilers were covered with asbestos insulation, the process created a dangerous amount of asbestos dust and fibers to become airborne.
Even the act of cleaning or repairing a broken one would entail the release of dust and coming in direct contact with other asbestos products like using joint mixtures that needed sanding or tape for loose insulation.
The appearance of mesothelioma symptoms in these cases of extended asbestos exposure could have happened in 30 or 40 years from being initially exposed to it. Sadly, this means that the workers are often older and more vulnerable from a physical standpoint when this illness manifests itself.
Boiler workers also served in the military, under the rating of boiler technicians. They were responsible for regulating boilers by performing an inspection on a regular basis, including reading and recording pressures and temperatures. Boiler technicians would also perform routine maintenance and make the necessary replacements or repairs, activities that inevitably triggered asbestos exposure, as hazardous materials would be disturbed. As a consequence, asbestos exposure was high in boiler technicians, since they would frequently work with dangerous products such as insulation.
Another military rating that had to perform duties similar to boiler workers was watertender. As if spending a lot of time in the engine room of the ship, which was one of the places with the most asbestos on a Navy vessel, was not enough, watertenders would also have to supervise the fires and boilers, therefore exposing themselves to double health danger. Boilers manufactured before 1980 are notorious for containing great amounts of asbestos, which is why former watertenders are today at high risk of developing a disease related to asbestos exposure.
Relevant job titles
- boiler mechanic
- boiler operator
- boiler repair
- boiler supervisor
- boiler technician
- boiler tender
- boiler tester
- boiler washer
The companies that exposed boiler workers and boiler technicians to asbestos during the last century are the following: