Friday, November 23, 2007

Update - asbestos

Asbestos attracts particular attention because it has had such a devastating effect for so many people.

There are three common types
1. White (chrysotile),
2. Brown (amosite)
3. Blue (crocidolite)

People working directly with asbestos are clearly at risk, but the main problem is that it has had many applications in the past, and this leads to exposure to others for many years after. Typical uses included:
* Pipe lagging;
* Ceiling tiles;
* Roof and wall sheeting (asbestos cement);
* Coatings sprayed on to steel structures to provide fire insulation;
* Thermal insulation in lofts and walls;
* Gaskets.

Illnesses caused by asbestos inhalation include
* Pneumoconiosis;
* Asthma;
* Asbestosis;
* Mesothelioma;
* Lung cancer.

Asbestos is covered by the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2006. They create a duty on employers if workers are likely to come into contact with asbestos based materials or if there is asbestos based material in the workplace.

A suitable and sufficient assessment of the presence and type of asbestos is required prior to commencement of work. Where there is doubt it should be assumed that asbestos is present and that all the applicable provisions of the regulations apply. Anyone likely to be exposed to asbestos at work requires training. Where asbestos is found in the workplace a decision needs to be made about whether it needs to be removed or made safe whilst leaving it is position (i.e. encapsulated). Most activities involving asbestos must be performed by companies licensed to do so, although there are some exceptions, the most notable being work with textured decorative coatings such as Artex, although precautions are still required.

There are two Approved Codes of Practice
* L143 “Work with materials containing asbestos” - Gives an in-depth look at the Regulations
* L127 “The management of asbestos in non-domestic premises” - Deals with how to manage asbestos.


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