How dangerous is asbestos exposure in the workplace?

How dangerous is asbestos exposure in the workplace?

Every year, Asbestos kills 5000 workers, decades after it was banned from being used. But why?

Championed as a fire resistant safety material in the 1940s; Asbestos was commonly used in industrial buildings, offices and garages for its relatively cheap retardant properties.

However, after a link was made between exposure to the fibres and a condition called Mesothelioma, the UK banned all imports and use of Asbestos in the 1980s. Asbestosis, Lung Cancer and Pleural Thickening are also caused by exposure to asbestos fibres in the air. All of these conditions can be fatal.

Many buildings have Asbestos in their structure and pose no immediate threat to inhabitants or employees inside. This is because the dangerous aspect of the material is the airborne fibres, so having it in the building is not, in itself, a problem. However, if the material is to be broken, sawed or disturbed in any way, the fibres can be released.

All buildings built or refurbished before the year 2000 could contain asbestos, so it is vital that you, and your organisation, are informed on the safe procedures to take when dealing with a possible Asbestos problem.

  • Never attempt to remove or amend any asbestos structures yourself without proper equipment and training. This will cause harmful fibres to be released into the air and will put you and any other building occupants at risk.
  • If you find material that you suspect might be asbestos, but does not feature any signs, put up warnings and ensure nobody goes near the area. Arrange for a licensed contractor to take samples from your site and let them determine the best course of action.
  • If you a accidentally release Asbestos fibres by disturbing any suspect materials, ensure you deal with it immediately. Identify the risk level of the material you have disturbed. Lower level material like AC (Asbestos Cement), Bitumen products, textiles and papers that fully-in-tact AIB (Asbestos Insulating Board) can usually be safely removed without a licensed contractor. However, if you are unsure, it’s always best to contact a contractor for help.

Whether you’re simply educating or planning for your company to comply with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, there are a number of steps to take to ensure you are compliant with UK and EU law and that you and any employees you have understand the correct procedures to take when dealing with this dangerous material.

For more information regarding safe use of Asbestos, how to recognise different types of asbestos and how to deal with each type, our CPD certified educational Asbestos DVD provides insight into the correct procedures following the discovery of Asbestos in the workplace.

To ensure your company complies with all current Asbestos Regulations, our Asbestos Register Software provides all planning templates, guidance charts and assessment algorithms to assist you in creating a safer workplace.

21st Oct 2018 Christopher Maltby BG

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