Despite the fact that asbestos is no longer used as a building material, it still presents a risk to several individuals. Every year, asbestos kills around 5,000 workers, which is more than the number of road fatalities. What’s more, around 20 tradesmen die each week as a result of past exposure, as it can often take a long time to develop associated illnesses or diseases. But once diagnosed, it can sometimes be too late to do anything, which is why knowing whether you’re at risk remains incredibly important. From surveying properties for this deadly mineral to asbestos disposal in a safe and regulated way, Sperion knows all about the potential dangers. Therefore, we know when and where people might be at risk from asbestos.

Working with asbestos

Seeing as asbestos was very common in buildings constructed or refurbished before the year 2000, several occupations may come into contact with the material during their regular routine. According to the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) the following professions could be a risk:

  • Engineers for heating, ventilation, and telecommunications
  • The construction industry – demolition workers, architects, building surveyors, and other such professionals
  • Tradespeople – electricians, carpenters, joiners, roofers and plumbers
  • Painters, decorators and plasterers
  • Fitters and installers of shops, gas appliances, fire and burglar alarms, computer systems and data centres
  • General maintenance staff e.g. caretakers

Not all lines of work are covered in this list, but if you regularly work in residential or commercial properties, there could be an element of risk which is why safe asbestos disposal is so important.

Level of risk

Any building or premises built before the year 2000 caries the greatest danger. What’s more, if you are unfamiliar with the site or haven’t carried out a risk assessment, there is a chance that asbestos could be present. If asbestos-containing materials were not identified before the job was started or found to be present but not dealt with by those in charge of the work, you should stop immediately and seek further advice. The same can be said if you do not know how to identify and work safely with asbestos or have not received appropriate information, instruction and training. You will also put yourself in great danger if you choose not to follow proper precautions and safety measure to save time or cut down costs when it comes to disposal of any identified asbestos.

Things to remember

Always bear in mind that:

  • You can’t see or smell asbestos fibres. It often requires a professional to survey a property before asbestos disposal can take place.
  • The effects of exposure can take many years to show up, but once symptoms do become apparent, certain illnesses can’t be cured.
  • In addition to asbestos exposure, you are at a much greater risk of developing lung cancer if you smoke as well
  • Risk only exists when asbestos fibres are released into the air and breathed in. If you do not disturb or damage the containing material, you should be safe.

For more information on where you can find asbestos containing materials in residential and industrial properties, visit the HSE’s website.