Until the early 1990s, asbestos was a widely used building material. Construction workers very commonly utilized this property for its ability to strengthen materials including concrete, bricks, fireplace cement, pipes, and insulation. After it was discovered asbestos was linked to cancer and other harmful health conditions, most products were banned in the United States.
Asbestos is a hidden hazard due to the fact that exposure involves breathing in tiny particles lingering in the air. Unfortunately, construction workers unknowingly breathe in the contaminated fibers, which gets trapped in the lungs. It is not until years later when they get diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, such as cancer, that they realize they were exposed to asbestos.
Asbestos still lives in buildings today and is most commonly found in older ones. It is highly important construction workers know how to be safe in buildings where asbestos could potentially be present. Personal protective equipment, increased awareness, and proper training are all effective measures that can keep workers protected from asbestos exposure.
Exposure to Asbestos
It is highly important to note the following: if you suspect asbestos is present, do not touch or move it. Doing so breaks the asbestos down into small particles, which will then spread throughout the air and linger there for hours. This is extremely harmful to workers on site who will breathe in the contaminated air. Only qualified professionals can remove asbestos.
Some health risks associated with exposure to asbestos include:
- lung cancer
- lung disease.
Health illnesses and diseases do not happen immediately after exposure to asbestos. It is possible for conditions to develop years later. While asbestos exposure will not have any immediate impact on your health, it is still important you notify your doctor to make them aware of the event. If you suspect you may have been exposed to asbestos, seek medical attention immediately.
The construction worker pictured below is a perfect example of what should be worn while working on a site that there is a possibility of asbestos present.
- Hard Hat
- Safety Glasses
- Hearing Protection
- High Visibility Shirt
- Disposable Body Suit
- Safety Gear
Asbestos [Do’s and Don’ts]
- Keep Children Out of the Area
- Limit Activities in the Area
- Call a Licensed Asbestos Abatement Company
- Sweep, vacuum, or dust possible asbestos debris
- Remove suspicious materials
If you suspect asbestos is present, leave the building and notify all employees to do the same. A certified asbestos inspector should then come in to take samples of the suspected asbestos. These samples will then be taken to a lab to determine the extent of the problem. If the results show that the sample is in fact asbestos, then the abatement or removal process should follow quickly afterwards.
Types of Asbestos Abatement Work:
Class I asbestos work: Activities involving the removal of asbestos used to prevent heat loss or gain, surfacing asbestos-containing materials and those suspected of containing asbestos.
Class II asbestos work: Removal of non thermal asbestos-containing materials such as wallboards, floor tiles and sheeting, roofing and siding shingles and construction mastics.
Class III asbestos work: Repair and maintenance operations of any asbestos-containing materials that will likely be disturbed. This is the type most likely used for removing asbestos.
Asbestos removal is complicated and must be done very carefully. In order to prepare for the process it’s important to notify the surrounding community and workers that there is danger present. This can be done by putting up warning signs around the property, with messaging including: “Danger” “Asbestos” or “Authorized Personnel Only.”
Workers should never assume that a building is free of asbestos. Knowing what procedures to follow in the event asbestos is present can protect workers from developing serious health conditions later on. Frontier Industrial Corp. are experts when it comes to handling and removing asbestos. Contact us today to learn more at 1-888-492-3791.