How to Manage the Risks Associated With Asbestos In the Workplace

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Asbestos is a mineral that naturally occurs on the planet. It was used a lot in construction in the 20th century before its devastatingly ill effects were discovered.

If you are in a building that was built prior to 1990, then there is a good chance that it has asbestos. Therefore, despite significant changes in construction codes which require the removal of asbestos from any inhabited space, there is still a lot of it in numerous buildings.

You should learn the risks associated with having asbestos in a building especially in the workplace. The following are some ways to manage that risk:

Asbestos Assessment Training

A fantastic way to reduce the risk of having asbestos in the workplace is to have people in your staff who know about asbestos. The more that they know, the better the chance you have to manage those risks.

It is even better if some of your employees can take asbestos training courses and become certified experts in the field. You will have in-house specialists that will be indispensable in helping you deal with the hazardous material.

There is much involved in training your employees about asbestos management. They should learn about the hazards of asbestos exposure, personal hygiene procedures when working with asbestos, operation of the necessary engineering controls and disposal procedures. They will learn much of the above from the training courses.

These courses will often have various modules meaning that your staff can achieve varying levels of proficiency. The fact of the matter is that effective asbestos management at the workplace begins with you and your staff so taking these courses to their completion is an excellent idea.

Knowledge of the Law

Ever since asbestos was discovered to be a hazardous material, there have many laws put into place to ensure buildings practice effective asbestos management. These laws are both at the state and national level.

A good example is the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations of 2007 which offers very clear-cut guidelines as to how employers should handle asbestos management in the workplace. They essentially state that an employer is responsible for the management and handling of asbestos by their employees.

These laws will also include terms as to the handling and removal asbestos including how to remove them and who should do it. They will also handle the tools and equipment that should be used in asbestos management. Knowing the law will help you stay out of trouble by adhering to the guidelines.

Keep an Asbestos Register

You should ensure that your workplace has a functioning and updated asbestos register. It will reduce the risk that you or your employees will be negatively affected by the ill effects of asbestos.

It is actually required by law that every building that was built before a certain year should have an asbestos register. Hence it is important to know each and every law surrounding asbestos management.

An asbestos register tracks the location of asbestos in a building and the risk that they pose to the building and its inhabitants. It is not only for your own good to have an accurate asbestos register but it is also for the public good as many people might have access to the building.

Asbestos Identification

If you want to better manage the risks associated with asbestos, then you should know how to identify asbestos in any building using a chemical compliance software. Being aware of the various techniques used to identify asbestos will substantially help in their management.

There are many ways in which a firm can lose money. One of them is the medical costs for taking care of people negatively affected by the asbestos in the building. Considering that asbestos can cause cancer, the medical bills can be gargantuan.

If you don’t know how to identify or locate asbestos and are not in a position to learn, then you can have professionals help you. You can have professionals conduct an asbestos survey of your building ever so often. They will test everything from the air to the smallest elements of your building for asbestos.

Moreover, they are bound to be more successful than you at identifying asbestos since they have the knowledge. They also have the specialized tools and equipment needed for removal.

You should give them enough time to conduct conclusive inspections even though it might mean losing business.  Protecting your health and that of your employees should always be the priority.

Working with Asbestos

If there is any asbestos in your building, then your staff should be well prepared to deal with if they have undergone adequate training. It will also involve using the right tools, equipment and clothing while handling asbestos. On the other hand, there are things that should be kept far from asbestos which is a crucial part of asbestos management.

Anyone in your building who is working with asbestos, should have access to personal protective equipment (PPE). The equipment will include disposable overalls, protective footwear and gloves among others. It is considered to be safer to dispose of equipment you use to handle asbestos rather than washing it according to most experts.

It will be a significant investment and your business might lose some money. However, there is no substitute for health.

Health Monitoring

Last but not least, regular health monitoring will be a crucial component of effective asbestos management. That goes for anyone who is working in your building regardless of whether they come into contact with asbestos.

A medical screening is vital for anyone who thinks they might have asbestos poisoning. Hence the importance of having a health insurance plan for your employees, as regular checks can be quite expensive.

The checks might be part of the regular annual health check ups your employees get. However, the best option is to have separate screening exclusively done to check for asbestos poisoning. If your employees are safe and healthy, then your asbestos management plan is working well.

Asbestos management is a touchy subject for most businesses and building owners. However, the risks that asbestos pose to the health and wellbeing of you and your employees is significant. With the tips above, you should have an effective asbestos management plan that substantially reduces that risk.

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Jennifer Evans
President, @B2BNewsnetwork (launched Nov 2014). Content, community and analytics obsessed. Inventor @squeezecmm. Past chair, @itac_online @whiteribbon