Many people only associate the risk of asbestos with specific jobs such as miners and those in building trades. However, asbestos is a material that was used for a long time for a range of different construction purposes. This means that it can still be found in many offices, warehouses, workplaces and other commercial premises today.
So no matter where you work there may be a risk of encountering asbestos. If it is not something you know very much about this might seem like a worrying prospect. So here are some of details you need to know about asbestos at work.
What is asbestos?
It might be the case that asbestos is nothing to you but a scary word, so let’s cover the basics. Asbestos is naturally occurring material with an extremely versatile array of uses, which meant it was utilised extensively through the 1960s to the 1980s. While health risks were identified a long time before, some types of asbestos were still being used until an outright ban in 1999.
Asbestos was used so extensively because of its many positive attributes including being fire resistant and very strong when mixed with cement. This means that it can be found in a huge range of places throughout the workplace.
Where can it be found?
Due to the many uses of asbestos you can find in a wide variety of places. In offices and commercial buildings, asbestos may have been used within walls or ceiling spaces as insulation. In warehouses it was commonly used in roofing as well as a strengthening agent in cement. If you are worried about asbestos in your workplace, ask your supervisor or the building owner. It is required that all non-residential properties have an asbestos management plan in place which will detail where any asbestos is located and ensure there is a plan to deal with it.
How to protect yourself from asbestos exposure
To protect yourself from asbestos exposure it is important firstly to understand that your employer has a duty of care to minimise your risk of exposure. If you are ever worried about encountering asbestos at work you should speak to your employer and they will provide you with the details or your specific situation.
If you believe you have found a material that may be asbestos you should let your employer know. The most important factor with asbestos is that it is only dangerous when it is disturbed and fibres are allowed to get into the atmosphere where they can be breathed into the lungs.