Cement Plant Workers

Fact Checked

Cement plant workers were responsible for mixing, forming and distributing a number of cement products that often included asbestos. Part of their job was to stir asbestos into the cement mixture, cast it into blocks, mold items and service the machinery used in manufacturing.

Jump to a Topic:

It was often a dirty job, but that’s not what made it so dangerous. Asbestos was added to make the cement stronger, almost indestructible. But it also exposed those working with it to the toxic fibers. The risks involved came with each step of the manufacturing process.

In 2015, a Polish study analyzed rates of asbestos-related cancer among workers at five types of asbestos-product factories that operated from the 1940s to the 1990s. The highest rate of mesothelioma occurred among asbestos-cement workers, at 6.54 cases per 1,000 workers.

Cement Plant Worker Fast Facts
  • National employment, 2011: 40,360
  • Similar occupations: Brick masons, construction workers, drywall and ceiling tile installers, tile setters, plaster masons
  • Previously Exposed: Yes
  • Still Being Exposed: No
  • Asbestos-Related Disease Risk: Moderate

Cement plant workers often would come home each day with the fibers on their clothes and skin, exposing their families to the same dangers they faced throughout the workday.

Cement Plant Products and Locations

Asbestos was added to a myriad of cement products. The strength in the cement came from the adherence of the limestone/clay mixture to the fibers. The type of asbestos used – chrysotile, crocidolite and amosite – depended on the product being manufactured.

Cement Plant

Although the products often were 90 percent cement and 10 percent asbestos, it was enough to make the mix dangerous. The fibers were wet-mixed into the cement before it was formed and cured to create the end product, including commercial cement blocks.

The final, hardened mixture could be made into flat or corrugated sheets from which cement roofing slates were formed; or it could be molded into tiles, vents, gutters, or pressure pipes.

The products were used as covering for boilers, furnaces, stills and pipes. There were cement/cement compounds that were marketed as a roof-repair material. There were similar cement sealants for use in chimneys, skylights and shingles.

Occupational Exposure for Cement Plant Workers

Exposure was a continuous problem in an asbestos cement factory, but one of the most serious risks was the arrival of the raw mineral, which came in sealed bags that were opened by hand.

Another form of exposure was the stacking of the cement sheet products, which emitted toxic dust into the air. Dust-reducing coating was sometimes applied to the surface of these products.

The other part of the manufacturing process that released significant amounts of dust into the air was transferring the products to the shipping department. Products were placed in bucket elevators and conveyors, which meant that fibers could easily circulate throughout the plant.

Learn More About Occupations Exposed to Asbestos

Questions About Asbestos Exposure?

Our Patient Advocates can answer your questions about occupational asbestos exposure and find you an attorney.

Scientific Studies Involving Cement Plant Workers

A study of 6,931 employees of two asbestos cement plants in New Orleans, Louisiana, revealed an association between the number of mesothelioma risk factors they encountered and their length of employment. The longer someone worked at a plant, the more apt he or she was to develop the cancer. Another factor contributing to increased risk was the amount of time spent working in the pipe area.

The workers in both plants had an average of 3.8 years of employment and an average exposure concentration of 7.6 million asbestos particles per cubic foot. Among all workers, 10 cases of mesothelioma had developed up to 1984.

Another study found that cement factory workers experienced higher levels of oxidative stress, which plays a role in the development of mesothelioma. Workers directly exposed to the dust and particles had higher levels of oxidative stress biomarkers than workers with indirect exposure.

Mesothelioma Lawsuits Involving Cement Plant Workers

Richard Worthley, a former employee at the Johns-Manville Illinois asbestos cement plant, died of mesothelioma after working there for 24 years. A jury awarded his family $3.4 million. The judgment in his favor concluded that the asbestos supplier to the plant, Advocate Mines Limited, was negligent because it didn’t provide any warning about the dangers of working around the raw material.

Manufacturers Who Made Products Used by Cement Plant Workers

Johns Manville was one of the first companies to produce asbestos cement compounds. Its coating became a popular roof-repairing material.

National Gypsum Company manufactured asbestos cement sheets. Part of its bankruptcy reorganization plan was a trust.

Supradur Manufacturing produced asbestos roofing tiles. It was purchased by a subsidiary of GAF Materials Corporation.

Other manufacturers included:

  • Keasbey & Mattison
  • Philip Carey Manufacturing Company
  • Flintkote Company
  • Baltimore Roofing & Asbestos Manufacturing Co.

Get Free Recipes for Mesothelioma Patients

Get Your Guide
Asbestos.com Mesothelioma Packet

Get the Top Mesothelioma Guide for Free

Get Yours Now

Get the Compensation You Deserve

Find an Attorney

Senior Editor

Matt Mauney is an award-winning journalist with more than a decade of professional writing and editing experience. He joined The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com in 2016, and he spends much of his time reading, analyzing and reporting on mesothelioma research articles to ensure people in the mesothelioma community know the latest medical advances. Prior to joining Asbestos.com, Matt was a Community Manager at the Orlando Sentinel. Matt also edits pages, articles and other content on the website. He holds a certificate in health writing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Walter Pacheco, Managing Editor at Asbestos.com
Edited by
Reviewed by placeholder
Scientific Review By

4 Cited Article Sources

The sources on all content featured in The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com include medical and scientific studies, peer-reviewed studies and other research documents from reputable organizations.

  1. Szeszenia-Dabrowska, N. et al. (2015). Asbestos related diseases among workers of asbestos processing plants in relation to type of production and asbestos use. Retrieved from: https://ecnis.openrepository.com/bitstream/handle/10146/556636/Asbestos%20related%20diseases.pdf?sequence=1
  2. Pournourmohammadi, S. et al. (2008). Study on the oxidative stress status among cement plant workers. Retrieved from: http://het.sagepub.com/content/27/6/463.abstract
  3. Hughes, J.M. and Weill, H. (1991). Asbestosis as a precursor of asbestos related lung cancer: results of a prospective mortality study. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/pss/27727226
  4. Kazan-Allen, L. (2007, July). Killing the future: asbestos use in Asia. Retrieved from: http://www.ibasecretariat.org/ktf_web_fin.pdf

Did this article help you?

Did this article help you?

Thank you for your feedback. Would you like to speak with a Patient Advocate?

Share this article

Last Modified August 27, 2020

Get Your Free Mesothelioma Guide Chat live with a patient advocate now