Asbestos Awareness Week

Asbestos Awareness Week

This year’s National Asbestos Awareness Week (NAAW) campaign reminds Australians to Think Twice About AsbestosThis 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.

The problem with asbestos occurs when it is disturbed, resulting in microscopic fibres being released into the air.

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.

Make sure you know how to protect yourself and your workplace from the dangers of asbestos.

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).

How do I perform an asbestos audit?

  • Hire a professional like Helia EHS who are a leading environmental and OHS auditing company
  • Helia EHS can inspect and assess the property for Asbestos-Containing Materials
  • Take photographs and samples (for laboratory identification) to prepare a report.

The best way to protect against the dangers of asbestos is by following proper workplace safety procedures.

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:

  • That it contains a current asbestos register (within 5 years) and an asbestos management plan;
  • That there are processes in place to ensure that anybody doing work in the workplace that could impact on asbestos-containing materials are directed to ensure they review the asbestos register beforehand; and
  • Where practicable, labelling around the workplace to indicate where such materials are present or suspected.

Here are some tips for protecting yourself especially if you’re removing the material (which you must be licensed to do so):

  • Always wear protective clothing consisting of a long-sleeved shirt, pants that fit tightly around the ankles, chemical-resistant gloves and shoes with no open backs or toes (think work boots).
  • Always use a respirator that filters out particles from your mouth and nose. If you’re unsure whether you need one, ask one of the experts at Helia EHS to assist you (or your training provider).
  • Your training provider would advise you on how you set up your asbestos-containing material removal work zone based on the type of material being remove (and how much). Please follow these instructions, which includes protecting other workers not in the asbestos-removal process or the public.

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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top