How to Protect Yourself from Asbestos

Before 2000 Asbestos was commonly used within buildings to help with insulation and fireproofing. Studies on its toxicity were undertaken  since 1899 but this did not stop companies from using it as resource for construction. Despite the threat becoming increasingly more known, it took a very long time for the use of asbestos to stop and  governments eventually getting involved. In 1999, the UK government put into law that asbestos should not be used in construction with regulations also put in place to train tradespeople on the dangers of asbestos.

All types of asbestos are known to cause serious health issues in humans whilst some are more dangerous than others. It can result in mesothelioma and asbestosis which has been linked to certain types of lung cancer. With many tradespeople working on buildings that were constructed before 2000, the chances of coming into contact with asbestos fibres is highly likely.

Because of the dangers and the change in law, a number of online asbestos awareness training courses are available. Companies, such as UKATA have been created with the sole goal of raising awareness and quality of asbestos courses. With UKATA Asbestos Awareness, more and more tradespeople are getting qualified training on the subject.  

As well as asbestos awareness and training, there are a number of safeguarding procedures tradespeople must know so that they can protect themselves from the dangers of asbestos. Here at SSD Online Asbestos, we have compiled our list of top tips on how to protect yourself from asbestos within the workplace.

1. Do not work around asbestos, if at all possible

The first tip is an act of common sense. There are severe health hazards attributed to coming into contact with asbestos. For this reason, the removal of asbestos should be undertaken by those who are qualified and trained to remove it, therefore removing the risk of those who have not completed any asbestos training to work in that location safely. If this is not possible, only those who have had the correct training and are qualified to be near it. Remember, there are types of insulation that also contains asbestos that may  cause unsuspecting danger to the untrained eyes if it is disturbed.

2. Plan the work effectively

Because of the dangers of asbestos, planning your work in an area where asbestos is present is imperative. As we have said above, if you  plan for the removal of asbestos or only have the trained professionals around the affected area, then this could save yourself from many hazards. If you have a health and safety advisor on site, the asbestos trained staff could consult with them every step of the way by creating a plan with their shared expertise.

3. Wear the right equipment

You will more than likely have a mask that is competent in protecting yourself from dust particles. Some might think that this would be enough to protect them from deadly asbestos particles but this is not the case. There are masks that have been specifically designed to protect the user from inhaling any harmful specks of asbestos. It is vital that you wear the right equipment for the job at hand.

4. Avoid using power tools

When power tools are used they create dust in the air and can disturb dormant asbestos Because of this, the risk of asbestos particles spreading in the air and people inhaling these particles increases. If using power tools is unavoidable, then keeping an area dampened with water will allow dust to settle much faster. You should also consider cleaning up as you work rather than leaving it all to the end of a task.

5. Avoid sweeping up any debris

A similar issue to power tools, sweeping any debris that has been in contact with asbestos can cause the particles to spread. This should be avoided. Using a Type H vacuum cleaner or even wet rags to clean up your area would be advantageous in this environment. Any waste should be double bagged and taken to a site that deals with asbestos waste.

6. Keep yourself safe and clean

Overalls worn whilst working in an asbestos affected area should never taken away from the site you are working on. They shouldn’t ever be reworn. Overalls should be removed and disposed of in a similar way to clearing waste – double bagged and taken to the appropriate disposal site. Make sure you shower thoroughly before leaving any site.

Asbestos is a dangerous substance but by following these safety tips, the threat of its danger can be significantly reduced. If you are a tradesperson looking to gain your asbestos training certificate or a company looking to get their staff accredited, please get in touch with us to find the right course for you.