Occupations at Risk

What Occupations are at Risk?

Asbestos-related diseases are more likely to affect people employed in the following occupations. In some of the occupational groups, family members may also suffer health consequences from exposure.

Aerospace and missile production workers

Aircraft manufacturing production workers

Aircraft mechanics

Asbestos textile mill workers

Automobile manufacturing production workers – including automobile mechanics and brake repairers


Brake and clutch manufacturing and assembly workers

Building engineers

Building material products manufacturers

Cement plant production workers

Coast guards

Construction workers – including insulators, boilermakers, laborers, steel/iron workers, plumbers, steamfitters, plasterers, drywallers, cement and masonry workers, roofers, tile/linoleum installers, carpenters, HVAC mechanics, and welders


Demolition and wrecking crews

Electrical workers – including electricians, and electrical and telephone line workers

Guard dogs at asbestos plants

Insulation manufacturing plant workers


Longshoremen and women


Merchant mariners

Packing and gasket manufacturing plant workers


Powerhouse workers – including insulators and pipefitters

Protective clothing and glove makers

Railroad workers – including locomotive mechanics, car mechanics and rebuilders, and maintenance personnel

Refinery workers – including insulators and pipefitters

Refractory products plant workers

Rubber workers – including tire makers and hose makers

Sheet metal workers

Shipyard workers – including electricians, insulators, laborers, laggers, painters, pipefitters, maintenance workers, and welders


U.S. Navy personnel

Warehouse workers

Family Members at Risk

Lung diseases have occurred among family members of workers engaged in the manufacturing and use of many products containing asbestos. These products may include thermal insulation materials, asbestos cement, shingles, textiles, gas masks, floor tiles, boilers, ovens, and other friction products. Families have also been exposed to asbestos when workers were engaged in mining, shipbuilding, insulating railways, maintaining and repairing boilers and vehicles, and asbestos removal operations.

Varying health consequences for family members have resulted from workers inadvertently carrying hazardous materials home from work on their clothes, skin, hair, tools, and in their vehicles.

In 1992, the U.S. Congress passed the Workers’ Family Protection Act. The legislation requested that the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conduct a study to “evaluate the potential for, prevalence of, and issues related to, the contamination of workers’ homes with hazardous chemicals and substances . . . transported from the workplaces of such workers.”

Preventative Measures in the Workplace

Reducing exposures in the workplace.

Changing clothes before going home and leaving the soiled clothing at work for the employer to launder.

Storing street clothes in separate areas of the workplace to prevent their contamination.

Showering before leaving work.

Prohibiting removal of toxic substances or contaminated items from the workplace.

Preventative Measures at Home

Separating work areas of cottage industries from living areas.

Properly storing and disposing of toxic substances on farms and in cottage industries.

Preventing family members from visiting the workplace.

Laundering contaminated clothing separately from family laundry when it is necessary to launder contaminated clothing at home.

Informing workers of the risks to family members and of preventative measures.

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