Beginning at the start of April, Global Asbestos Awareness Week (1st to 7th April) is committed to increasing awareness of the dangers of asbestos and preventing exposure to this carcinogenic substance.
Asbestos is a well-known and formerly widely used mineral product that found popularity in usage during the 1800’s for its fire retardant and insulative properties. It was mined worldwide and used for lagging steam pipes, industrial machinery, ships and steam engines to name but a few. Its common availability made it a cheap and an often-used material leading to widespread incorporation in many areas of everyday life.
However, as early as the 1900’s a link was acknowledged with ill health. In 1906, a first report of lung illness and disease was reported to the Government body responsible for industrial disease and by 1930 the link was made to its carcinogenic properties. Sadly, it took until the 1960’s to fully identify the nature of the disease but it wasn’t until the 1980’s that action was finally taken to begin to stop usage of the mineral.
It took until 1999 for the UK to fully ban asbestos usage outright.
So, what does that mean for construction and facilities management operatives today? Well, it is likely that unless your building operator or owner has carried out a dedicated asbestos building survey to identify and highlight risk areas, that asbestos will be present somewhere in your day-to-day life.
Much asbestos is, however, still undisturbed and causes no immediate risk, but it must always be a consideration regardless of how minor any works might be. A job as simple as running some new conduit for pipes or electrical cables might expose you to a previously unlisted asbestos threat, so it’s important to recognise when and how you can minimise the risks that this might entail.
Encouraging an employer or premises owner to invest in an asbestos register is a great start, but if you’re a mobile trade or work frequently in unfamiliar surroundings, the onus is on you to protect yourself; after all, they’re your lungs!
We Do Training can offer you the three categories of asbestos related training that can help.
• Asbestos Awareness (Category A)- this is a fundamental and broad training package to highlight where risks might lurk.
• Non-Licenced Asbestos (Category B)- this is for people who carry out non-licenced and notifiable non-licenced works, that need risk assessment and safe work methods amongst other more detailed understandings.
• Licenced Asbestos Works (Category C)- this training is designed for high risk operations that must be carried out by licenced contractors only.
Asbestos is undoubtedly a killer, but if treated with knowledge and respect, you give yourself and your employees the safest working environment possible.
Train safe, work safe, be safe!