6 Need to Know Facts About Asbestos in the Workplace

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Asbestos, once widely used for its fire-resistant properties, has left a legacy of health risks, particularly in workplaces in Kent. With its documented links to severe respiratory diseases, it is crucial for the workforce to understand the facts surrounding asbestos exposure. Here are six essential facts about asbestos in the workplace that you need to know to take the right precautionary measures against it and how an asbestos survey Kent can help you prevent a bigger health risk.

Asbestos Exposure Frequently Causes Work-Related Deaths

Asbestos exposure stands as the leading cause of work-related deaths worldwide. The UK, unfortunately, has its share of asbestos-related fatalities. This fact underscores the gravity of addressing asbestos exposure in the workplace. 

One prime example are the tragic cases of railway workers who develop mesothelioma due to prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers during his service. One Google search will give you several horror stories that serve as a stark reminder of the potential consequences of inadequate safety measures.

Approximately 90,000 individuals across the globe succumb to asbestos-related diseases annually. The sobering reality is that these diseases are preventable with proper safety precautions. 

For instance, shipyard workers lose their lives to asbestosis due to long-term exposure every year. This alarming statistic alone is enough to raise the urgency of promoting awareness and implementing stringent safety measures to prevent such tragedies. However, that isn’t the case. 

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Ongoing Occupational Risks

Despite efforts to regulate asbestos usage, an estimated 125 million people worldwide, including in the UK, are still at risk of occupational asbestos exposure. This risk primarily exists in industries such as construction, shipbuilding, and manufacturing. 

Consider the case of construction workers who are primarily exposed to asbestos-containing materials while renovating older buildings. Numerous cases in the construction industry have helped highlight the persistent need for vigilance and protective measures. But there still aren’t any major changes in the attitude toward the risks associated with asbestos.

Hidden Hazard

Asbestos doesn’t always announce its presence. Just like the effects of nuclear atoms, any structures built before the ban on asbestos use in the UK may still contain this hazardous material. 

Professionals like electricians, plumbers, and builders may unknowingly encounter asbestos during their work. Most of these servicemen never receive proper training to identify and manage potential asbestos risks, making it impossible to end the cycle. 

Plumbers, for example, who stumble upon asbestos insulation while repairing heating and venting systems may further perpetuate the spread of asbestos unintentionally during the course of their contract. 

Latency Period and Health Risks

Asbestos-related diseases have a latency period, often appearing years after exposure. This delay in manifestation means that workers may not immediately associate their health issues with past asbestos exposure. 

Consider the case of a retired teacher, Laura, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma years after her service in a school with asbestos-containing materials. Her story underscores the need for regular health check-ups and proper record-keeping to monitor potential health risks.

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Despite what you have read so far, not all hope is lost. The UK government has enforced strict regulations to manage asbestos risks in the workplace. 

Duty holders are required to assess asbestos risks and create management plans to safeguard workers’ health. And organisations must comply with these regulations to ensure a safe working environment. 

For instance, construction companies often face legal consequences when they fail to properly manage asbestos exposure risks, especially during a demolition project. The unlawful asbestos dumping has resulted in jail time and large fines for many contractors in the market. 

The Crucial Role of Asbestos Surveys

The facts about asbestos in the workplace paint a sobering picture of its pervasive impact on global health. Given the life-threatening effects of asbestos exposure, there is a dire need to mitigate its risks before the side effects become irreversible. That’s where an asbestos survey comes in!

 

An asbestos survey is a comprehensive process that identifies and assesses the presence of asbestos-containing materials within a building. It involves thorough inspections, sample collection, and analysis to determine the extent of asbestos exposure risks. 

There are two main types of asbestos surveys: Management Survey and Refurbishment/Demolition Survey. Each serves a specific purpose, ensuring that proper precautions are taken based on the level of asbestos risk.

Management Survey

A Management Survey is the initial step in understanding and managing asbestos risks in a building. It identifies the presence, location, and condition of asbestos-containing materials. 

For instance, consider a company planning to renovate its office building. A management survey would identify asbestos-containing materials that might be disturbed during the renovation, enabling the organisation to take appropriate precautions.

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Refurbishment/Demolition Survey

If major refurbishments or demolitions are planned, a refurbishment/demolition survey is necessary. This survey is more intrusive and involves accessing areas that might be disturbed during the proposed work. 

So, if a construction company is planning to demolish an old factory, a refurbishment or demolition survey would be instrumental in assessing the potential asbestos risks associated with the demolition process, allowing the company to ensure worker safety.

Benefits of Asbestos Surveys

As the Kent workforce continues to navigate potential asbestos risks, vigilance and proactive safety practices are paramount to prevent further tragedies and safeguard the well-being of workers across various industries. So, here are three reasons why you should book an asbestos survey in Kent right away. 

  • Risk Mitigation: Asbestos surveys help businesses identify and manage potential risks, enabling them to create strategies to minimise exposure during construction or renovation projects.
  • Legal Compliance: Complying with regulations like the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 is crucial. Conducting regular asbestos surveys demonstrates a commitment to worker safety and legal compliance.
  • Worker Well-being: By conducting asbestos surveys, businesses prioritise the health and well-being of their employees, reducing the risk of asbestos-related diseases.

Asbestos exposure is a serious concern that demands proactive measures. In the UK, businesses can ensure a safe working environment by conducting thorough asbestos surveys. These surveys not only identify potential risks but also play a pivotal role in crafting effective strategies to manage and mitigate asbestos exposure. By investing in asbestos surveys, businesses can safeguard the health and safety of their workforce, foster legal compliance, and contribute to the creation of a safer workplace for all.

 

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