WARNING SIGNS OF ASBESTOS
Employee well-being is paramount on any job site. That’s why it’s important for crew members to take proper safety measures when working around aged asbestos in construction materials.
The fibers that form asbestos separate very easily into tiny pieces when they’re handled or damaged. They’re too small to see, but they’re easy to breathe in. They can build up in your lungs and cause health problems.
What Health Problems Can Asbestos Cause?
If you breathe in the fibers over long periods of time, you increase your risk for diseases like lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Smokers are even more affected. That’s because cigarette smoke irritates lung passages. This makes it harder for the lungs to remove asbestos fibers.
Mesothelioma. If you’ve worked with the substance, shared a home with someone who has, or lived close to an asbestos mine, see your doctor if you have trouble breathing or believe it’s affected your health.
5 safety tips for working with asbestos in construction
- Do your best to find out if the job site contains asbestos. There are usually no databases tracking which buildings contain asbestos, which means building owners are often the best ones to turn to. Take extra caution with structures built before the ‘90s. The older the building, the more likely it contains asbestos.
- Take necessary asbestos training. Employers should offer asbestos training, especially on job sites where asbestos is known to exist. Workers should know how to identify asbestos materials, be aware of actions that contribute to exposure and understand the health risks. It’s worth noting that asbestos removal should only be performed by licensed professionals who understand Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines. Key takeaways include not eating, smoking, drinking, chewing or applying cosmetics in an asbestos-regulated area, as well as showering at work and leaving work clothes to be washed at work.
- Use the necessary respirator and vacuum technologies. Employers are required to provide high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) respiratory masks and vacuums as key safeguards against inhaling asbestos fibers.
- Avoid disturbing dust when possible. This involves the use of saws, as well as working around compressed air, sweeping, shoveling and similar activities. Additionally, continually applying water (the “wet method”) while working with material can help prevent the release of asbestos fibers.
- Wear the proper protective clothing. When working with asbestos, it helps to wear full-body covering suits, gloves, face shields, head and foot coverings.
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