Where Asbestos Might Be Found in the Workplace
If you are the person responsible for the management of a commercial or industrial workplace, you will understand that asbestos is a potentially dangerous substance. Even though it was banned from construction completely in the UK in 1999, it was heavily used within industry and construction for many decades prior to that. It only takes one breath of an asbestos fibre to potentially cause a life-long illness and death from asbestosis, mesothelioma or other asbestos-related cancers. With this in mind, it is vital that you have a grasp of where asbestos might be found in a workplace, and what to do should you discover it.
There were many different practices and applications that asbestos was used in during the long period of its use. Despite the warnings that started to come over the years about the dangers of asbestos, any building that was constructed prior to 1999 is extremely likely to have some form of asbestos present, and that is an awful lot of businesses. Here are just a few places and items that you might find asbestos in the workplace:
- Spray coatings
- Within walls
- Vinyl floor tiles
- Ceiling tiles
There could be even more places in a workplace where you could find asbestos, as it was used as lagging for pipes and insulation for boilers, on top of all the places mentioned above.
The older the building that you work in, the more likely you are to have asbestos presence, and in many different locations and applications. This makes it a potentially dangerous proposition for workplaces where there is a need to undergo even cosmetic works, but especially where a building is to be demolished or undergo an extensive refurbishment. In these cases, it is vital that a licensed asbestos management team investigates the site and works out where asbestos-containing materials are present and what condition they are in, before any work can take place. In most cases this will require the safe removal of asbestos from the premises.
If you do find asbestos in the workplace it is important that you do not touch it or attempt to move it on your own, without the support of a professional asbestos removal expert. It only take one time for you to disturb asbestos fibres and cause potential problems.
Once you know where to look for asbestos, you need to be as careful and safe as possible. Your safety, and that of your employees and any other person who might visit the site, whether clients or suppliers, is of the utmost importance. It only takes one time for asbestos-containing materials to be disturbed for asbestos fibres to get into the air and potentially be breathed in by passers-by, causing potential fatalities years down the line. If you believe that there are asbestos-containing materials present in your workplace, you should contact a professional and licensed asbestos surveyor to test and analyse asbestos in your workplace. From there, they will decide the best course of action, which often includes complete and safe removal of asbestos from the workplace.