Asbestos is the biggest on the job killer of tradespeople in the UK.
It is dangerous due to the fact microscopic fibres cannot be seen, smelled or tasted, and asbestos exposure does not cause any immediate symptoms, so it is easy for a person to inhale or swallow the dust without realizing it. Once the fibres are in the body, they never dissolve, and the body has extreme difficulty expelling them.
According to the HSE, asbestos may be present in buildings constructed or refurbished before 2000. More than 50% of UK homes are likely to contain asbestos, and it is responsible for an estimated 5,000 deaths per year in the UK.
It can be found in any residential or industrial building built or in the process of a refurbishment before the year 2000.
It is in many of the common materials used in the construction industry, such as; ceilings, walls, beams, cement products
PPE must be worn to protect the labourer against the harmful affects as it cannot be seen by the naked eye.
Some PPE required includes;
- Disposable gloves
To prevent the spread of the particles on your fingertips to other parts of your face
- Suitable footwear
Pick shoes without laces, this is due to the fact that the dust can get caught in laces and therefore spread. If there are no laces, the footwear is easier to clean and therefore reduces the risk of contamination.
RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment) is one of the most essential pieces of equipment. When choosing a suitable face mask or respirator, you must firstly ensure that it’s been assigned with a UK protection factor (APF) of 20 or more. A respirator must allow you the freedom to communicate easily with colleagues and fit well with the rest of your safety equipment.
Any disposable respirator/face mask should conform to UK standards EN 149 (type FFP3) or alternatively EN 1827 (type FMP3).
They are typically white face masks with two straps, and often feature an exhalation valve for improved comfort. Disposable respirators are designed to provide effective protection against fine respirable dusts such as mists and metal fumes. Making them a highly valued part of your asbestos PPE kit. A disposable face mask or respirator can only be worn once for a single use. It must be disposed of safely with other waste, including other disposable PPE such as gloves and coveralls. This is to prevent the spread of the particles.
Examples of those affected are listed below. There will be other occupations where it may be disturbed in addition to these:
- General maintenance workers
- Painters and decorators
- Construction workers
- Shop fitters
- Gas fitters
- Heating and ventilation engineers
- Demolition workers
- Telecommunication engineers
- Fire/burglar alarm installers
- Computer and data installers
- Building surveyors
The training courses are suited for employees who may come into contact with asbestos-containing materials within their place of work.
It is is dangerous because exposure to it is proven to cause cancer and pulmonary diseases. When asbestos products become damaged, they release microscopically thin fibers that become airborne and are easily inhaled.
Long-term exposure puts people at risk of developing mesothelioma, lung, laryngeal and ovarian cancer. Some people develop an incurable pulmonary disease known as asbestosis, which involves progressive scarring of lung tissue. These conditions usually develop decades after exposure first began.