Asbestos

Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK.

The changing legislation has meant many old reports are ineffective and the on-going management of asbestos within a workplace is not taken seriously. We provide both surveying, management planning and some minor removal work.

This site provides health and safety advice and guidance so that those who may be exposed to asbestos at work know what to do to protect themselves and others.

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Why is asbestos dangerous?

When these fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases which are responsible for around 4000 deaths a year. There are four main diseases caused by asbestos: mesothelioma (which is always fatal), lung cancer (almost always fatal), asbestosis (not always fatal, but it can be very debilitating) and diffuse pleural thickening (not fatal).

Asbestos fibres are present in the environment in Great Britain so people are exposed to very low levels of fibres. However, a key factor in the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease is the total number of fibres breathed in. Working on or near damaged asbestos-containing materials or breathing in high levels of asbestos fibres, which may be many hundreds of times that of environmental levels can increase your chances of getting an asbestos-related disease.

Asbestos related diseases won’t affect immediately but later on in life, so there is a need for you to protect yourself now to prevent you contracting an asbestos-related disease in the future. It is also important to remember that people who smoke and are also exposed to asbestos fibres are at a much greater risk of developing lung cancer.

When am I at risk?

You are mostly at risk when:

  • You are working on an unfamiliar site
  • The building you are working on was built before the year 2000
  • Asbestos-containing materials were not identified before the job was started
  • Asbestos-containing materials were identified but this information was not passed on by the people in charge to the people doing the work
  • You don’t know how to recognise and work safely with asbestos
  • You know how to work safely with asbestos but you choose to put yourself at risk by not following proper precautions, perhaps to save time or because no one else is following proper procedures

Remember, as long as the asbestos is not damaged or located somewhere where it can be easily damaged it won’t be a risk to you.

  • You can’t see or smell asbestos fibres in the air.
  • The effects of being exposed to asbestos take many years to show up – avoid breathing it in now.
  • Smoking increases the risk many times.
  • Asbestos is only a danger when fibres are made airborne and breathed in.

Are you sure that you don’t come in to contact with asbestos?

If you work in any of the following occupations, and are working on a building built or refurbished before 2000, you may come in to contact with asbestos:

  • Heating and ventilation engineers
  • Demolition workers
  • Carpenters and joiners
  • Plumbers
  • Roofing contractors
  • Painters and decorators
  • Plasterers
  • Construction workers
  • Fire and burglar alarm installers
  • Shop fitters
  • Gas fitters
  • Computer installers
  • General maintenance staff eg caretakers
  • Telecommunications engineers
  • Building surveyors
  • Cable layers
  • Electricians

This list does not include all occupations where you may come in to contact with asbestos.

How can Stonewall Partnership assist?

  • By organising a survey and preparing a register with material and priority matrix, in line with HSG guidelines
  • Prepare a ‘Management Plan’ which clearly details responsibilities and provides actions that need to be undertaken
  • Re visits the plan annually and update it as necessary