Asbestos, although not as common these days, is still a very real threat in the workplace. Over 3000 people die each year from asbestos-related diseases, that’s more than are killed on the roads. It’s extremely essential that if you own a business where you have employees and customers coming in and out daily, then you need to know what to look for, and what to do in the event of asbestos.
Praxis42 bring you this short guide on what you need to know and how you can keep your workplace safe to work and visit.
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states that “it shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees” If not followed you face fines or possible prosecution depending on the severity. It’s up to you, as business owner to fully understand what to look for, and to ensure that your business is fully risk free to the health of everybody within it.
How Asbestos Harms.
To truly understand Asbestos you should know how it harms our bodies so that you have a better understanding on what to look out for.
Asbestos can enter the body via four routes, inhalation, ingestion, skin contact and injection, all of which would require immediate medical attention. Inhalation is one of the most dangerous routes into the body as the small asbestos fibres are inhaled deep into the lungs, making it extremely difficult to remove. This results in lung tissue damage as the fibres interfere with the lungs on a cellular level. Ingestion, skin contact and injections don’t result in fatal conditions but are still cause for concern and medical attention.
The Warning Signs.
Asbestos use peaked in the 1970s but was still used in construction materials until 1999, so it’s important to understand the building you’re working in and whether or not it was constructed with these materials. Places where you can find asbestos include:
- Asbestos cement products
- Insulating boards
- Damaged ceiling tiles
- Floor tiles, textiles and composites
- Sprayed coatings on ceiling walls and beams
- Textured coatings
Most people understand that asbestos was heavily used as insulation in earlier years as its an excellent insulator, even compared to any material made to replace it. Older boilers, heating pipes and loose fill were often used for insulation purposes. Loose fill is potentially the most hazardous type as it can become airborne just by simple air turbulence caused by movement, it’s advised to never work near this type and immediately start the process of removal.
If you’ve identified asbestos within your business workplace through risk assessments or specialist asbestos surveys then you firstly, under no circumstances do you handle, damage or tamper with the suspected materials, as this could worsen the situation. Check to see if the asbestos poses immediate risk to anybody, if any Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) is undamaged then it poses no risk to health but should still be recorded in a risk assessment.
Stop the work you’re doing, do not alarm customers or visitors about the asbestos risk, explain that there’s a safety issue and the location of the asbestos should not be used until test results have been received. Sampling will be needed for this test, but you should not do this yourself, a trained, insured and approved contractor must do this.
Being aware of what’s around us in the workplace is extremely important, ensuring that everybody is trained to be aware of potential hazards is vital to a safe environment. E-learning is an excellent way to provide a high-level of training in a fast and efficient way, speak to a e-learning provider, such as Praxis42, today and be confident in the fact that you and your staff are aware of your surroundings.