Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material which was regularly used in buildings and building materials from 1950 – 1999. It is still found today in buildings such as schools, homes, and hospitals. If disturbed, it can be a killer.
Inhaling loose asbestos fibres is known to cause serious or fatal lung diseases. So it was no surprise, when it was eventually banned in 1999. But was this too little, too late? The British Lung Foundation have said that every week, 20 tradesmen die in the UK due to illnesses caused by asbestos exposure.
- Ceiling tiles
- Pipe insulation
- Sprayed and textured coatings
- Asbestos cement sheeting
- Board around windows, radiators and fireplaces
- Soffit boards
- Fire doors
- Gaskets and sealants on pipes
- Electrical boxes
- Wall cladding
- Cement flues
- Textiles, such as old fire blankets and heat resistant gloves
You may often come across asbestos while you’re working. As long as asbestos is well maintained, not disturbed and not disintegrating, then it doesn’t pose an immediate risk to your health.
How do you know if your building or property contains asbestos?
There are specialist companies that can perform an audit of your building or property and many of them can be found by a simple Google search. Click here to view a site that compares prices for Asbestos Surveys.
What should I do if I come across asbestos while I’m working?
Different types of asbestos will need to be dealt with in different ways. The most important thing you can do to avoid unnecessary risks is to arm yourself with the facts before you start work. If you suspect there could be asbestos in the building you’re working on, stop immediately and inform your employer and the building owner. Before working with asbestos you should receive training and be supplied with the correct protective clothing and equipment.
Even small levels of exposure, if repeated day after day, can lead to diseases later in life. So don’t start work if you’re not sure how to handle it safely.
If you would like more information on asbestos, and what to do should you come across it, take a look at The British Lung Foundation’s guide to asbestos.
Article compiled by: Laura Pay-Savage