Are you concerned that you might have asbestos in your workplace? Asbestos is famously a huge hazard to health and whether you are an employer or an employee, you need to make sure you’re aware of the dangers associated with working in close proximity to it. Here are some do’s and don’ts to follow to ensure that you and your staff stay safe from asbestos at all times.
DON’T assume it’s not asbestos
Given the very well-publicised risks from asbestos to human health, you might imagine that is actually fairly rare to find the substance in buildings. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. While we now know the substance is hazardous to humans, it was not until fairly recently that rules and regulations were updated to reflect this risk. Any building that was built before 1999 could potentially contain asbestos; it was only that year that the use of asbestos was banned completely.
Therefore it is very possible that you could have asbestos in your place of work. If you see something that is suspicious or you believe that a substance where you work could contain asbestos that’s it is worth being cautious and getting someone else involved.
DO inform the landlord or business owner
The landlord of the building or the business occupier has a responsibly to keep employees or people working in the building safe from exposure to asbestos. If you are an employee and you’re worried about asbestos in the building, contact the person responsible for the building immediately. It is their responsibility to have a plan to deal with any potential asbestos exposure – it’s against the law no to. Tell them about the asbestos and they will deal with it.
If you are the business owner and you have the responsibility to deal with the asbestos then you need to have an action plan in place to mitigate the risk posed to your staff.
DON’T try to deal with it yourself
Unless you have the requisite training and experience dealing with asbestos you should not attempt to deal with it yourself. Asbestos is only dangerous when it is disturbed and fibres are released into the atmosphere. So if you’re worried about a material that you believe is asbestos or may contain asbestos, the best thing you can do is to ensure that no-one disturbs the asbestos and you book in professionals to deal with it as soon as possible.
DO have an asbestos survey carried out
If you’re worried about a specific material or you just want to have the workplace checked over you should book in an asbestos survey. The survey will have asbestos professionals inspect your premises. They will then be able to take a sample of any potential suspect materials and send them off for laboratory analysis. Once it has been established that you have asbestos on your premises, you can have it professionally removed or take appropriate action via a suitable and sufficient management plan to ensure that risk of asbestos exposure is minimised.