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Asbestos remains a significant threat to auto mechanics

On Behalf of | Nov 1, 2018 | Workers' Compensation

If you work in an auto repair shop in Pennsylvania, you likely face multiple hazards that threaten your safety and health. Along with slip-and-fall hazards caused by spilled automotive oil and the cuts and bruises you can suffer, many car parts contain asbestos. This toxic mineral has remarkable fire-resistant qualities, but it is a significant health risk because it is a known carcinogen. Asbestos is the leading cause of a deadly type of cancer: mesothelioma.


Workers in related occupations such as automotive body and glass repair work, heavy vehicle technicians, diesel service technicians and mechanics, mobile equipment technicians and small engine mechanics face similar problems. These workers all handle auto parts such as clutches, brakes and heat seals that contain asbestos, which has heat-resistant qualities.

What makes auto repair shops hazardous?

Worn brakes, clutches and heat seals become brittle, and they disintegrate or break apart. This process allows fine asbestos fibers to become airborne and attach to your clothes and skin. Repair shops that have poor air circulation and worker who use high-pressure air to blow out brake surfaces exacerbate the threat. Vacuuming of the work area further spreads asbestos particles, and the lack of proper airflow leaves them lingering in the air, posing risks for anyone within about 75 feet from the work area.

Workers and customers inhale the airborne asbestos fibers, allowing them to enter and embed themselves in the lungs. Furthermore, people in your occupation typically have grease on their hands and clothes, which makes them even more vulnerable because asbestos particles stick to the oil, allowing mechanics to carry it home and expose their families to the same hazards.

Which auto parts contain asbestos?

Although the use of asbestos became limited years ago, it was never abandoned entirely. High-end imported vehicles still have asbestos in brake linings, and the same is true of imported parts for the aftermarket. You might take precautions when working with the following auto parts:

  • Clutches: Asbestos could be present in older and even some new car models, and as they wear down during regular use, asbestos dust collects in the small compartments around the device. When you remove the cover, clutch, disc, drum or the wheel, the dust becomes airborne, ready for you to inhale or ingest.
  • Brakes: Friction and wear of the brakes cause similar collections of asbestos dust in the brake housing, releasing it as soon as you open the casing.
  • Hood liners: For several decades, various manufacturers have constructed hood liners from the remarkably fire-resistant fibers of asbestos.
  • Other spaces: Asbestos can be present in gasket material, valve rings, heat seals, packing and other heat seal material used in all systems that transport fluid or gases.

What are your rights?

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops gradually, and it might take years before diagnosis. You might not be in the employ of the company at which exposure took place, making the pursuit of financial relief particularly challenging. There are specific programs that deal with financial assistance for victims of mesothelioma in Pennsylvania. An experienced workers compensation attorney can explain your rights and provide the necessary support and guidance throughout the proceeding to secure maximum benefits under applicable laws.


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