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What is Asbestos?
Asbestos in basic terms is a mineral that is easily split into fibres. Asbestos deposits are found underground and are surfaced for processing using conventional mining practices. Asbestos can be found in any industrial or residential building built or refurbished before the year 2000.
Large-scale Asbestos mining began at the end of the 19th century, when manufacturers and builders began using asbestos for its desirable physical properties. Some of those properties are sound absorption, average tensile strength, affordability, and resistance to fire, heat, and electricity. It was used in such applications as electrical insulation for hotplate wiring and in building insulation. When asbestos is used for its resistance to fire or heat, the fibers are often mixed with cement or woven into fabric or mats. These desirable properties made asbestos very widely used. Asbestos use continued to grow through most of the 20th century until public knowledge of the health hazards of asbestos dust outlawed asbestos in mainstream construction and fireproofing in most countries.
Inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious and fatal illnesses including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis (a type of pneumoconiosis). Concern of asbestos-related illness in modern times began with the 20th century and escalated during the 1920s and 1930s. By the 1980s and 1990s, asbestos trade and use were heavily restricted, phased out, or banned outright in an increasing number of countries.
The Asbestos related diseases will not affect immediately; they often take a long time to develop, but once diagnosed, it is often too late to do anything. This is why it is important to protect yourself.
Asbestos Risk Assessments
Before starting any work that is likely to disturb asbestos, a suitable and sufficient risk assessment must be prepared by the employer or person in charge of the premises. This means examining the potential risks to health and identifying which precautions are needed to make the work safe. Whoever carries out the risk assessment must have a sufficient level of knowledge, training and expertise. This is to make sure that they understand the risks from asbestos (and general risks) to enable them to make informed decisions about the risks and identify the appropriate action required to reduce them. They will also need to be able to estimate the expected level of exposure to help them decide whether or not the control limit is likely to be exceeded.
Risk assessments are about identifying and controlling the risks. A suitable and sufficient risk assessment should include full details of the work to be undertaken and how long the work is expected to take. It should also include:
- Details of the type and quantity of the asbestos
- Details of the expected level of exposure
- Details of the controls to be used to reduce exposure eg use of local exhaust ventilation, controlled wetting, adequate PPE / RPE use of enclosures
- Decontamination procedures for tools, equipment and PPE
- Details on how asbestos waste will be managed
- Emergency procedures
The findings of the assessment should be communicated to employees and anybody else who could be affected. A copy of the risk assessment must be available on site.
It is a legal obligation of business owners and managers who have a duty of care for their employees, customers or residents and to understand and minimise any asbestos risk, by completing an Asbestos Risk Assessment.
Working closely with the client’s legal ‘Dutyholder’, our Risk Assessor locates and assesses all accessible Asbestos containing materials in building fabric and plant equipment.
Even though the use of asbestos is now banned, exposure to asbestos fibres is the single greatest cause of work-related death in the UK. Now, almost all exposure arises from asbestos in buildings, with building maintenance personnel being the workers most likely to be exposed.
Contact Comfort Services Group Ltd today to find out how we can help you to identify any potential areas of concern, our quotes are free with no obligations.Enquire about this service