Essential safety tips when working with asbestos
Despite the fact asbestos is no longer used as a construction material, it can still be found in buildings built or refurbished before the year 2000. For this reason, it remains an ever-present threat to people working nearby. When asbestos is disturbed or damaged, it can release harmful fibres into the air. If inhaled, these fibres can result in serious illness and disease, which take a long time to develop but once diagnosed theses are sadly often fatal. So, to ensure you remain free from any harm, taking necessary precautions is crucial. The following safety tips when working with asbestos have been put together by professional removal, management, and surveying firm Sperion.
Wear the right clothing and protection
In addition to protective overalls and eyewear, you should also wear some sort of self-contained breathing apparatus. Regrettably, the penetrative nature of asbestos fibres mean they are small enough to travel through most masks, so you will need to choose wisely. Your best bet will be a mask with a HEPA filter, which are designed to protect against gases, dust, and toxic substances, such as asbestos. However, always check the manufacturer guidelines as to what your mask protects against.
Wash your clothes straight away
Even if you wear overalls while working near or with asbestos, these should be washed before you take them home. When this is not possible, place them into a sealed back and change into clean clothes that have not come into contact with any dust. Clothes covered in asbestos have been a historical source of secondary exposure. So, always rinse before attempting to clean with soap, as wet asbestos fibres cannot become airborne.
Shower as soon as you can
Asbestos fibres can also stick to your skin and hair, which is why you should shower as soon as possible after working. This might need some forward planning to ensure you can shower on site or nearby without having to go home first. If this isn’t possible, try to cover your entire body with protective clothing, which could include gloves and a hood or hairnet.
Follow correct safety procedures
Even though it might be tempting to cut corners in order to reduce the amount of time you work with asbestos, this has the potential to cause more harm than good. Therefore, follow the correct safety procedures such as wetting materials, sealing off the area, and making other employees or members of the public aware of what is going on to avoid unwanted exposure.
Educate yourself about asbestos
Rather than distancing yourself from asbestos, take a more proactive approach and attempt to understand where it is commonly located and what products might contain the material. By increasing your knowledge, you will be better prepared but less likely to suffer from exposure. A great deal of information about asbestos is available from the HSE’s website. Alternatively, get in contact with a company like Sperion. In addition to providing advice, this adept and experienced organisation can manage the entire removal and disposal process for you.