Asbestos - The Unseen Killer

Asbestos - The Unseen Killer

  • Date: Thursday 28th October 2010
  • PDF: Download

Please find below the first in a series of three short articles on Asbestos.  In line with demand we hope to provide some basic information that can be built on with further study or training.


Asbestos - The Unseen Killer

According to the HSE, during 2008 a staggering 2249 deaths from mesothelioma alone were reported and attributed to workplace exposure.

Where Can We Find Asbestos?
Historically asbestos containing materials (ACMs) were used extensively in the UK and its presence is possible in a variety of forms in many buildings constructed before 2000:
1. Asbestos cement products
2. Coatings i.e. ‘artex’, insulation and lagging
3. Floor tiles, window sills and bath panels
4. Building insulation and fire proofing boards and coatings

To the untrained eye ACMs may exist undetected as illustrated in the photos attached:
Vinyl Floor Tiles / Ceiling Tiles / Pipe Lagging

How it Harms Us
If uncontrolled work is carried out on or near ACMs i.e. drilling into the material, the risk of contracting an asbestos-related disease can be significant.

As abestos fibres are sharp and needle-like, if airborne and inhaled they can lodge themselves in the lungs causing three chronic health problems: mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis - all of which can be fatal. Taking between 15 - 20 years to manifest itself, it has even been contracted from secondary contact with clothes exposed to fibres.

Who is at Risk?
Construction and demolition contractors, electricians, plumbers, decorators, joiners, electronic engineers and general buildings maintenance engineers. In fact anyone working in buildings containing asbestos can be put at risk if ACMs have not been identified or managed effectively.

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