Asbestos, an invisible killer potentially found in more than 250 places in the workplace, is commonly misunderstood and traditionally underrated as a hazardous substance. Asbestos is able to cause a number of fatal lung and stomach related illnesses. It is present in one out of every three workplaces we visit.
Asbestos is a needle-like fibre that is so small, it passes through a vacuum cleaner bag, but so deadly that our body cannot remove it. Once disturbed it is difficult and expensive to decontaminate a workplace. In 2012 the Health and Safety Executive halved the exposure limits.
Do not take samples of asbestos. Disturbing asbestos could release dangerous fibres into the lungs of those occupying the building and cause serious illness. Use a qualified, competent experienced surveyor with laboratory facilities.
During an Asbestos survey, we discovered significant quantities of disturbed asbestos containing boarding. We immediately mad the area safe, then fully briefed the directors of the company on the way forward. Subsequently we carried out independent air monitoring to assess the level of danger, brought in a number of asbestos removal companies for competitive tender, then project managed the removal work to a safe successful conclusion.
Anyone who is involved in the disturbance of asbestos-containing materials may be at risk of asbestos exposure. This includes those carrying out refurbishment, maintenance and demolition, and those who may be in the surrounding area while the work is carried out.
Living or working in a building with intact asbestos-containing materials (such as ceiling artex or floor tiles) does not necessarily place you at risk. When the materials deteriorate or become disturbed or damaged, asbestos fibres may be released and inhaled. If you suspect that there is asbestos present you should take professional advice – never try to remove or sample it yourself.
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