Col's Construction Blog
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Col's Construction Blog

Hello! Welcome to my blog. My name is Col. I live in Perth and I have a passion for construction. I am pretty useless when it comes to construction work so I tend to leave it to the experts. However, I find that there is nothing more pleasing than seeing a team of construction workers complete a job. Over the years, I have hired many different types of construction worker and they have all taken the time to chat with me. During these conversations, I have learnt so pretty interesting things which I will be exploring on this blog. Enjoy!

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The risk of asbestos exposure to auto mechanics

Ethan Burton

If you're an automobile technician, mechanic or car manufacturer, you may be at risk of asbestos exposure in older vehicles. Prior to the 1970s, asbestos was used in many different industries around the world. From home insulation products to the brake pads in vehicles, asbestos was heavily relied on for its excellent insulation properties.

Because of the well-known risks of asbestos exposure, it is important for you to be aware of any potential risks that the material may pose to your health. Asbestos content in older cars may be an area of concern for mechanics while on the job.

Vehicle components that put mechanics at risk

Many people are aware of asbestos content in buildings. You may already know that it lurks in the roofing, flooring and insulation of older homes built prior to the 1970s. But what about asbestos in vehicles? Older automobiles may contain asbestos in any of the following parts:

  • Brake pads
  • The internal combustion engine and its parts
  • Gaskets
  • The clutch and clutch housing

Within these components, asbestos occurs as a microscopic compound that is mixed with other materials. For example, it may be embedded into fibreglass, paint or the linings of various parts. However, asbestos that remains intact is generally not considered harmful. So how can mechanics become exposed to friable asbestos (asbestos that releases harmful microfibers into the air)?

There are several practices that may directly expose automobile technicians to asbestos.

Old and worn-out brakes and clutches

Over time, brake pads and the clutch tend to wear out and obtain rough surfaces. If asbestos was used as a heat insulation material, it will likely be released in its friable form as these components wear down. Even worse is that many mechanics tend to use compressed air or vacuuming machines when servicing brakes in vehicles. These practices further spread asbestos fibres to any people nearby.

Because mechanics work so closely with vehicle parts, any friable asbestos released is directly inhaled by workers on site. For example, when a mechanic is grinding/sanding brake rotors or polishing clutch components, friable asbestos can be released into the air and inhaled.

How to avoid asbestos exposure

There are important step mechanics can carry out to limit asbestos exposure. First off, any brake work should be done using a pressure-enclosed vacuum system (placed around the braking assembly). In addition, all vacuums used should have a high-efficiency filter that can suck up even microscopic asbestos fibres.

It also helps to spray a thin layer of fluid on the brake pads to prevent fibres from spreading in the air. And when replacing old brakes and clutch assemblies suspected of containing asbestos, they should be sealed and clearly labelled for disposal.

For more information and assistance, contact your local asbestos removal service today.


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