We’ve all heard about the dangers of asbestos, but how much do you really understand about the potentially lethal mineral? Every week around 20 workers die as a result of past exposure, but asbestos is just as much of a problem today – despite being banned in 1999 it still kills around 5000 workers each year, which is higher than the number of people killed on the road.
Asbestos can be found in any building constructed or refurbished before the year 2000. When asbestos is disturbed, fibres release into the air and it is these fibres which can cause serious and deadly diseases when inhaled. The effects of asbestos can take a long time to become apparent, and by then it’s often too late – the damage has been done. Protection and prevention are therefore of utmost importance.
Asbestos can cause the following:
If you are a contractor or a building owner of any kind, you have a responsibility to ensure that everyone who may be exposed to asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in your building(s) is fully aware of the risks and trained on how to avoid them. As a building occupier or tenant, you also need to ensure that you are asbestos aware.
The law states that:
It is often difficult to tell where asbestos can be lurking. It is widely associated with insulation and lagging, for example, but did you know it can also be found in toilet seats and cisterns? Do you know where asbestos came from and why it was so widely used in the first place? It is important to have a thorough understanding of these factors in order to put together a comprehensive plan of action.
If you don’t put the necessary precautions in place, not only are you endangering life, you could also find yourself facing a hefty fine. In 2015, a self-employed heating engineer was investigated and later fined £5,000 (plus £3,000 costs) by the HSE after removing asbestos-lagged pipes from a domestic property without any precautions to prevent exposure. In court it was revealed that the engineer hadn’t received any asbestos awareness training.
When it comes to asbestos, you must ensure you fulfil all of your legal obligations – the first of which is awareness training for anyone who may be exposed to ACMs during their working activities. Make sure that you receive the correct information, instruction and training to keep everyone healthy and safe.
Wenlock H&S Ltd can undertake UKATA Asbestos Awareness training, here in Telford or at your premises. Contact us for more information.
Article by V. Horsewood
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