The use of Asbestos has been banned since 1999, but it is still responsible for the death of around 5,000 workers each year (which is more than the number of people killed on the road).
Asbestos is a natural, fibrous mineral which was mined and widely used in the manufacture of many products throughout the world due to its remarkable properties. Asbestos fibres are resistant to fire, have a high tensile strength and absorb sound.
Asbestos was historically used in cement, insulating board, lagging, floor tiles and much more.
When materials containing asbestos are damaged or disturbed, its fibres are released into the air. When these fibres are inhaled they can cause fatal lung diseases. Symptoms of these diseases often take a long time to develop, but once diagnosed, it is often too late.
The following diseases can occur from exposure to asbestos:
Mesothelioma – an aggressive form of cancer which affects the lining of the lungs. By the time it is diagnosed, it is almost always fatal.
Asbestosis – a serious scarring condition of the lung.
Asbestos-related lung cancer – asbestos may only be one contributing factor i.e. cigarette smokers who are exposed to asbestos are over 50 times more likely to contract lung cancer than the normal population.
Asbestos can be found in any industrial or residential building built or refurbished before the year 2000. Those most at risk of exposure are workers involved in refurbishment, maintenance and other manual trades.
Luckily, risks from exposure to asbestos can be avoided.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 places responsibilities on employers, employees and duty holders. Duty holders are required to manage asbestos properly in non-domestic properties. for example through the use of an Asbestos management plan, an Asbestos survey and risk assessments.
Also, workers and supervisors must be able to recognise asbestos containing materials and know what to do if they come across them.
We can provide you with the knowledge to do this through our training courses:
Asbestos Awareness – a half day course which covers a range of issues including hazards and risks from exposure to asbestos, where it can be found and emergency procedures. We also offer this as an online course.
Non-licensed work with asbestos (Level 2) – this one day course provides the knowledge required in order to work safely under non-licensed conditions when carrying out work on potentially hazardous asbestos containing materials.
Don’t be frightened by this hidden killer; by taking the right precautions you can ensure that asbestos risks are minimised to protect yourself and those around you.