Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring minerals that are resistant to heat and corrosion. This makes it a great material for use in products such as pipe insulation, floor tiles, other building materials, automotive brakes and clutches. Industries where greater exposure is present include construction, ship repair, automotive repair and product manufacturing which includes asbestos fibers in the end user product.
What hazards are associated with asbestos?
Asbestos fibers are often too small to see with the naked eye and has little or no odor when disturbed. Therefore, its impact on humans is significantly greater than other commonly used hazardous materials.
1. Asbestos fibers cause lung cancer when inhalation exposure is reoccurring
2. It causes mesothelioma (which is a fatal tumor of the membrane lining the cavity of the lung or stomach)
3. It can cause loss of lung functionality over time when inhaled on a reoccurring basis
4. Asbestos fibers cannot be removed from the body after they are inhaled which leads to chronic disability
5. Asbestos can lead to death
6. Asbestos micro-fibers can be transferred from the workplace to your vehicle or home on clothes, tools, hair, etc. where others may inhale them
1. Always confirm if asbestos exists in materials you are about to repair, demo, disturb or otherwise handle prior to beginning work
2. If asbestos is present or suspected, ensure proper PPE such as a respirator, protective goggles, gloves and garments are utilized during the work process
3. Think about methods to engineer asbestos hazards out of the work process such as replacement of an entire component or material instead of repairing materials what will disturb asbestos during the repair process
4. Ensure clothes, tools and equipment are washed immediately so asbestos fibers cannot be transferred to other areas and inhaled by other people
5. Communicate any suspected asbestos containing material to supervisors and co-workers immediately