Vol. 1, Issue 15 (Mar 02) Asbestos in the Workplace

We are all very aware that exposure to asbestos and asbestos containing products is potentially harmful to health.

Many people are at risk from exposure to asbestos. Anyone who uses the premises, who disturb the asbestos that has deteriorated or been damaged and is releasing fibres, can be at risk. In fact anyone whose work involves drilling, sawing or cutting into the fabric of premises could be potentially at risk. These individuals may all breathe in asbestos fibres during their day-to-day activities.

It is now thought possible that repeated low exposures, such as those works which could occur during routine repair work, may also lead to cancers. The new duty proposed under the changes in the asbestos regulations are likely to be and include the following:- Finding out where it is, its amount and what condition it is in. Presuming materials containing asbestos until proven otherwise.

Making and keeping up to date records on its location and its condition.

Assessing risks from the material. Preparing a plan that sets out details on how it is to be managed. Taking steps to put the plan into action.

Reviewing and monitoring the plan and the arrangements made.

Providing relevant information on the location and the condition of the material to anyone who is likely to disturb it.

Anyone with an interest in the property will have a duty to co-operate with employers to enable them to manage the risk

You are most likely to come across asbestos in these materials: -

  • Sprayed asbestos and asbestos loose packing-generally used in fire breaks in ceiling voids.
  • Moulded or preformed lagging -generally used in pipe insulation.
  • Sprayed asbestos – generally used as fire protection in ducts, firebreaks, panels, partitions, soffit boards, ceiling panels, structural steel work.
  • Insulating boards for used for fire protection, thermal insulation, ducts and partitioning.
  • Some ceiling tiles.
  • Millboard, paper and paper products used for insulation of electrical equipment. Asbestos paper has been used as fire-proof facing on wood
  • fibreboard.
  • Asbestos cement products which can be fully or semi-compressed into flat or corrugated sheets.
  • Corrugated sheets used as roof and wall cladding.
  • Certain textured coatings.
  • Bitumen roofing materials.
  • Vinyl or thermoplastic floor tiles.
  • Older style toilet cisterns.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive.
Asbestos has been used for many purposes.

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