Across the U.S., mechanics risk exposure to asbestos and asbestos-related illness. If you work as an auto mechanic, there is a possibility that you could have unsafe contact with asbestos. You have a right to safe work practices if you work in an auto shop.
Repairs on brakes and clutches have the highest risk of asbestos exposure.
Asbestos risks in vehicle repair
Not all brakes and clutches contain asbestos. However, some brakes and clutches today do use asbestos. When you remove the brake disk, clutch cover, wheel or drum, you can see brake and clutch dust. Some dust fibers are invisible to the human eye. When you inhale asbestos, you run the risk of inhaling asbestos fibers. Once exposed to asbestos, you may not have any symptoms of asbestos-related illness for 10 to 60 years.
Asbestos signs in vehicle components
You cannot determine if a vehicle component has asbestos via sight. Instead, you should look at the packaging information for newer vehicles and parts. Some packaging information may indicate that the brakes or clutch components contain asbestos. Unfortunately, with older cars, you may not have a way to find out for sure.
According to OSHA, you should always assume brakes have asbestos. If mechanics do not follow brake dust control procedures, they may have an increased risk of asbestos exposure.
OSHA requires employers to take proper precautions if workers perform more than five brake or clutch jobs every week. Precautions may include an enclosure and vacuum system to prevent asbestos exposure or low-pressure spray equipment that prevents airborne dust.