Although it may look rather harmless, asbestos is an extremely dangerous substance that kills approximately 5,000 workers every year, making it one of the biggest causes of worker death in the UK.
If you inhale asbestos fibres, it can cause life-threatening illnesses such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. This means that it is incredibly important for you and your employees to ensure that you’re implementing the correct safety procedures to fully protect yourself from the dangers of asbestos.
Personal Protective Equipment
The best way to reduce the chances of inhaling asbestos fibres is to wear a dust mask/respirator when working around or with the deadly substance. This will prevent any particles from being inhaled and getting into your lungs, where it can cause serious damage.
But, in order to receive the full protection of a respirator, you must ensure that it is correctly fitted, which may require a Face Fit Testing Kit – which is another product that we offer on our website. Other PPE that is necessary when working with asbestos includes disposable coveralls to stop fibres from sticking to your clothing, goggles to prevent any dust from getting into your eyes, and gloves.
Asbestos fibres are very fine particles which, unfortunately, means that even when you are kitted out from head to toe in PPE, some of it may still find its way onto things like your hair and clothing.
This is why it is important to wash both yourself and your clothes following any work you have done with asbestos to ensure that all traces of the substance are gone. It is also the reason why you are discouraged from reusing disposable coveralls, as they will often be covered in asbestos fibres after a hard day’s work.
As with any workplace activity that has risks involved, you should assess and plan your work before you get started to reduce the chances of injury or fatality. When it comes to carrying out work in a building built prior to 2000, you should be aware that asbestos is likely to be present in certain areas as it was used for insulation and fireproofing.
This means you need to be cautious before work starts and assess the building to check for traces of asbestos. If any is found, then you can put procedures in place to ensure the safety of you and your workers.
Often common sense plays the most important role in protecting yourself from dangers in the workplace, including asbestos. For example, you should never consume any food or drink around the substance, so even if you like to have a bottle of water by your side when you work – it has to be kept far away from any work being carried out. You should also make sure that before you take your lunch break – in a clean, asbestos-free area – that you have washed your hands thoroughly.
Last but certainly not least, all of the above is best understood and taught through training your employees. We offer Online Asbestos Awareness Training Courses that provide users with the tools they need to work with asbestos safely and effectively.
This includes a comprehensive understanding of PPE and smart working, further information on what asbestos is and how to identify it and even tests the users’ knowledge of everything they have learnt before they can begin their work. It will ensure that you, and those around you, are well-informed and ready to work with asbestos using the safest practices.