This year’s National Asbestos Awareness Week (NAAW) campaign reminds Australians to Think Twice About Asbestos. This year, home occupiers and tradespeople are asked to ‘do things the right way’ by ensuring the proper and lawful disposal of asbestos.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring material that was used in building products because it was cheap, lightweight and fireproof. The building materials included insulation; ceiling tiles and flooring; cement sheeting applied to ceiling; walls and eaves; clothing; gloves and fireproof coatings.
Inhaling these fibres can lead to a variety of conditions, including asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. Asbestosis is a scarring of the lungs caused by long-term exposure to asbestos fibres. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the cells lining the chest and abdomen that may result from breathing in asbestos fibres. Lung cancer is a cancer of the lungs that can be caused by inhaling asbestos.
When disturbed, such as when someone cuts through asbestos-containing material or removes it from walls or ceilings, tiny pieces of asbestos can be released into the air where they can be inhaled by others nearby. Although this type of exposure is not likely to cause health effects in many people, workers who are exposed to higher levels over an extended period could experience negative effects including lung disease and mesothelioma.
Asbestos Awareness Week is the perfect time to learn more about asbestos and how it can affect your health. One way you can determine the presence or location of asbestos is to conduct an asbestos audit. An asbestos audit is an inspection of your property to determine the presence, location, and condition of any asbestos-containing materials. The purpose of an asbestos audit is to assess the risk posed by the presence of these materials and determine how they should be handled moving forward (i.e., an Asbestos Management Plan).
The best way to protect against the dangers of asbestos is by following proper workplace safety procedures. The goal of Asbestos Awareness Week is to help workers understand how dangerous asbestos can be and what precautions (i.e., control measures) should be taken when working with it.
A workplace containing asbestos-containing materials must ensure:
Here are some tips for protecting yourself especially if you’re removing the material (which you must be licensed to do so):
We hope that this article has been an informative introduction to the dangers of asbestos. Asbestos is a dangerous material that can cause serious health problems if not handled properly. It is important for your workplace safety procedures to include proper training on how to recognise and handle asbestos products so that no one gets hurt or sick from them. Helia EHS is very experienced at conducting these audits all over Australia for a variety of industry sectors and will help you meet your state and federal obligations. Contact the team at Helia EHS to discuss your needs.