Asbestos is dangerous. It can be in any building in the UK built before 2000. Asbestos is not dangerous unless it is disturbed or it is in a poor state of repair and so it can stay in situ, creating no problems for many years. It is when asbestos has to be removed, that problems can arise. The UK Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) recently reminded of how to handle asbestos and what to do if asbestos removal doesn’t go to plan.
The first key part of any renovation, maintenance or demolition work on buildings constructed before 2000 is identifying if asbestos is present. A survey should be done, detailing any asbestos in a premises and where it is.
A plan should then be put in place as to how to deal with the asbestos. Licensed professionals should be brought in to handle the removal of asbestos to ensure its safe removal and subsequent clean up.
Unfortunately, even when taking these steps things can go wrong and UKATA are advising asbestos professionals to be familiar with potential issues. General Manager of UKATA, Craig Evans said, “Removal of asbestos from buildings is arguably only the first stage of the job. Knowing about how to clear up after an accident is nearly as important as knowing how to remove asbestos correctly in the first place.”
The first thing to do if asbestos is unwittingly disturbed is to stop work immediately and evacuate the area. No one should go near the asbestos without full protective equipment, including a respirator with a protection factor of at least twenty.
If someone has been near the asbestos and has dust or debris on their clothes, if possible they should remove their clothing and seal this in a plastic bag. If they cannot remove their clothing they should wipe themselves down with a wet cloth. Clothing contaminated with asbestos should be disposed of and anyone exposed to asbestos should shower as soon as possible.
If asbestos exposure has occurred, this should be reported to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and anyone exposed to asbestos should be advised to see their GP so it can be noted in their medical records.
Asbestos has to be disposed of properly. Any waste containing more than 0.1% asbestos must be classified as ‘hazardous’. It must be packed in approved packaging, double wrapped and labelled with a hazard sign and asbestos code. Asbestos should only be disposed of at a licensed disposal site.
It is imperative that these steps are taken when dealing with asbestos as exposure to this substance can lead to severe ramifications. Just one incident of asbestos exposure can put someone at risk of developing mesothelioma. This is a rare cancer which affects the linings of the body, it most commonly affects the lungs in the form of pleural mesothelioma, or the abdomen in the form of peritoneal mesothelioma. Asbestos conditions have a latency period of between 10 and 50 years. This means that if someone was exposed to asbestos today they may not show symptoms of mesothelioma until up to 50 years later. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for mesothelioma, although there are treatments available that can alleviate symptoms and prolong life expectancy.
Mesothelioma is a terrible condition and the only known way to avoid it is to ensure no one is exposed to asbestos. This is why it is vital to continue educating everyone on the dangers of asbestos and how to handle this most harmful of materials.
If you require assistance in pursuing an mesothelioma claim please contact us today on our freephone number 0800 038 6767. Alternatively, head over to the ‘Contact Us’ page, complete the form and we will be in touch.