Believe it or not the biggest cause of work related deaths in Britain is Asbestos, this is even more than are killed on our roads.
Asbestos was used in a large number of buildings constructed before 2000. It was so widely used down to the way it’s made. The structure is built up of small fibres, giving it great strength without weight. Asbestos is also insulated making it resistant to fire; the combination of these three properties makes it a perfect building material.
So why is it so dangerous? The very fibres that make Asbestos so perfect as a building material are also the downfall for it. When the Asbestos is handled or moved the tiny fibres break off and become airborne. These are then inhaled and become trapped in the lungs and remain there for a significant amount of time. Over time this causes inflammation and scarring of the lungs. Ultimately this leads to difficulty in breathing and serious health problems such as lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Who is most at risk from asbestos? Everyone is exposed to the substance at some point or another in his or her lifetime. This is down to very low levels of asbestos in our water, soil and air. However this doesn’t affect the vast majority of the population. The ones who are most at risk are those who work around or with the substance itself on a daily or regularly basis, such as joiners, plumbers, electricians and maintenance workers.
Facility managers, and those who are responsible for on site safety have a legal obligation to manage any area that has asbestos. This responsibility is referred to as Regulation 4 and this states you must plan and manage all work around asbestos to reduce the exposure as much as possible.
These obligations can sometimes be tricky to manage, but there are company that can provide asbestos support. ISA is one of these companies, and they can help by providing annual reviews of identified asbestos to ensure the condition has remained the same and controls are in place. Secondly they can provide Asbestos support training helping understand the risks and how to manage them.