Once marketed as a “magic mineral,” asbestos is now an infamous public health menace. Learn about what asbestos is, why it is harmful and how it was used in numerous construction materials and consumer products. Asbestos can be found in any building built before the year 2000 (houses, factories, offices, schools, hospitals etc) and causes around 5000 deaths every year.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral substance that can be pulled into a fluffy consistency. Asbestos fibres are soft and flexible yet resistant to heat, electricity and chemical corrosion. Pure asbestos is an effective insulator, and it can also be mixed into cloth, paper, cement, plastic and other materials to make them stronger.
These qualities once made asbestos very profitable for business, but unfortunately, they also make asbestos highly toxic.
Asbestos is not a single type of mineral — rather, it refers to a group of silicate minerals that share the same fibrous nature. In business terms, it was common to speak of common “white asbestos” (chrysotile) and the less often used “blue asbestos” (crocidolite) and “brown asbestos” (amosite).
Because asbestos is most likely mixed with another material, it’s very difficult to know whether you are working with it or not. However, if you work in a building built before the year 2000, it’s likely that some parts of the building will contain asbestos.
Who Is at Risk of Exposure to Asbestos?
Sadly due to the large quantities that were used in buildings and building materials, around 5000 people die each year from asbestos related diseases. This is predicted to rise up to 10,000 people making asbestos the single biggest workplace killer in the world.
Workers involved in refurbishment, maintenance and other similar trades, could be at risk of exposure to asbestos during their work. This includes: Heating and ventilation engineers, Demolition workers,Carpenters and joiners, Plumbers, Roofing contractors, Painters and decorators, Plasterers, Construction workers, Fire and burglar alarm installers, Shop fitters, Gas fitters, Computer and data installers, General maintenance staff eg caretakers, Telecommunications engineers, Architects, building surveyors, and other such professionals, Cable layers and Electricians.
- Asbestos refers to a group of fibrous, heat-resistant minerals
- Once a common ingredient in construction materials
- Asbestos kills around 5000 workers each year, more than the number of people killed on the road.
- Microscopic fibers can become trapped in the body, causing disease over time
- Industry executives covered up health dangers for decades
- Asbestos is not just a problem of the past. It can be present today in any building built or refurbished before the year 2000.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
If you are responsible for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises and /or a building owner, then you have a duty by law to manage any asbestos in that building.
The duty to manage covers all non-domestic premises including industrial and commercial buildings such as factories, warehouses, offices and shops. The duty also covers public buildings such as hospitals, schools, museums, libraries, leisure centres, churches and other religious buildings.
Although the duty does not apply to domestic premises such as private houses, it does apply to the ‘common parts’ of multi-occupancy domestic premises, such as purpose-built flats or houses that are converted into flats.
What you need to do as the dutyholder
- Find out if asbestos is present
- Make a record of the location, type and condition of the asbestos
- Assess the risk of anyone being exposed to the asbestos
- Prepare a plan on how to manage these risks
- Put the plan into action, monitor it and keep it up to date
- Provide this information to anyone who might work on or disturb the asbestos
ASBESTOS CONTAINING PRODUCTS
Asbestos fibres are strong, durable, and resist heat, acids, and friction. Asbestos is virtually indestructible. Because of its useful physical properties, asbestos fibres were often combined with other materials for use in hundreds of industrial, maritime, automotive, scientific and building products. The following list shows the wide range of materials that could contain asbestos:
Materials containing Asbestos include:
- Fireproofing (Plaster / Textured Paint)
- Textile and Cloth Products (Blankets)
- Spackling, Patching & Taping Compounds
- High temperature Gaskets and Packings
- Asbestos-cement Pipe and Sheet Material
- Tiles, Wallboard, Siding and Roofing
- Friction Materials (automotive brakes)
- People emergency escape systems
- Laboratory hoods and table tops
ASBESTOS IN INDUSTRIAL PROPERTIES
Asbestos can be found in any industrial building built or refurbished before the year 2000. It is in many of the common materials used in the building trade that you may come across during your work.
- Sprayed coatings on ceilings, walls, beams and columns
- Asbestos cement water tank
- Loose fill insulation
- Lagging on boilers and pipes
- AIB ceiling tiles
- Toilet seat and cistern
- AIB partition walls
- AIB panels in fire doors
- Asbestos rope seals, gaskets and paper
- Vinyl floor tiles
- AIB around boilers
- Textiles eg fire blankets
- Textured decorating coatings on walls and ceilings eg artex
- Asbestos cement roof
- Asbestos cement panels
- Asbestos cement gutters and downpipes
- Soffits – AIB or asbestos cement
- Asbestos cement flue
AIB = Asbestos Insulating Board
ASBESTOS IN RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES
Asbestos can be found in any residential building built or refurbished before the year 2000.
A. Asbestos cement Water tank
B. Pipe lagging
C. Loose fill insulation
D. Textured decorative coating eg artex
E. AIB ceiling tiles
F. AIB bath panel
G. Toilet seat and cistern
I. AIB airing cupboard and/or sprayed insulation coating boiler
J. AIB partition wall
K. AIB interior window panel
L. AIB around boiler
M. Vinyl floor tiles
O. Gutters and Asbestos cement downpipes
P. Soffits – AIB or asbestos cement
Q. AIB exterior window panel
R. Asbestos cement roof
S. Asbestos cement panels
T. Roofing felt
AIB = Asbestos Insulating Board
We at the Westmorland Family have been using ACS for over a year now, the whole process has been seamless and painless. The communication has been exceptional, as has the support and guidance whether face to face or over the phone. We have found the guys so helpful, and easy to work with. From doing our asbestos awareness training, to showing how to work the on online systems to review our properties and what asbestos we have and where has been a real eye opener. Its far easier and safer to use a “one stop shop” for asbestos, and these guys can do all that easily, its brings consistency and with that follows client confidence.
The Westmorland Family
Having worked closely with ACS over the last 4 years, I have found the team to be positive and proactive in their approach to the maintenance of our building portfolio and its associated asbestos registers. They continue to assist in driving forward the principles of M&S' Asbestos Policies, helping us maintain our position at the forefront of asbestos management in the retail sector."
Marks & Spencer