Asbestos was the most prevalent material used in buildings be it residential or commercial before Y2K. It can be found in ceilings, water tanks, boilers, gutters, water pipes, floor tiles, etc. When these materials that contain asbestos is damaged, or fibers present in them is released into the air which when breathed enters the human body and causes serious illnesses. Site Environmental & remediation services are employed by builders to conduct checks to ensure that such old buildings which contain ACM are safe for workers. As per statistics published by www.osha.gov, there are close to 5000 workers getting killed due to inhaling asbestos, so if you are a builder it is your duty and as per law to get your building surveyed for materials containing asbestos.
Dangers of inhaling Asbestos
As mentioned earlier, the fibers in the asbestos containing materials which enter the body while breathing. Asbestos is quite safe when it is not damaged, only when it releases the fibers it can become detrimental to your health. The effects of inhaling this fiber are not known as it takes time to develop, but once the condition is diagnosed, it is often very late for any treatment. That is the reason it is very crucial to protect yourself from this exposure.
The disease caused by asbestos can be
Mesothelioma which is similar to cancer and affects the lungs and the digestive tract lining.
Lung cancer caused due to asbestos. This disease is similar to the one caused due to smoking.
Pleural thickening which is another disease due to excessive exposure to asbestos. In this type of illness, the lining of the pleura becomes thick causing chest pain and breathlessness.
Monitoring and Managing Asbestos
Though supply and use of asbestos are banned, there are many old buildings which contain materials that have asbestos. As a builder or as a worker it is essential for you to perform the below-mentioned things before starting work in such buildings.
Determine the condition of the materials that contain asbestos
As per law, builders who employ workers to maintain or refurbish the buildings need to get clearance from auditors before starting work. It is the builder’s duty to provide information on the condition and also the location of the place where asbestos is present in the building.
If you are unsure of the condition or presence of asbestos, you can employ the services of auditors who will take a sample of the material and test it for the presence of asbestos.
Take all the necessary precautions when you are refurbishing places where asbestos is present.
Identify any risk that can be caused due to potential damages that can be caused to ACM.
Conduct a periodic assessment of the buildings to ensure that the there is no deterioration or further damaged done to ACM and take appropriate actions to mitigate it.
List out all potential risks and also identify workers who may get affected, conduct training to ensure they follow all safety precautions.
If possible check if you can perform the building maintenance or refurbishment without asbestos exposure at all. I.e. not to disturb any ACM in the building