Many people have heard about asbestos – especially those working in the building trade – and while it can be an innocuous substance if it has been treated in the correct way, prolonged exposure to the fibres can lead to serious illness and death.
Where are you likely to find it?
Although asbestos may have been used both outside and inside a property, there are particular areas you should look out for when working in, or making repairs or alterations to a building.
Pay special attention to lofts, roof panelling and tiles, boiler rooms, panelling on older baths, central heating systems, space underneath a house, garages, guttering and drain pipes and sheds and outbuildings.
Asbestos was used in the building of houses until the 1990s, so if you live or work on properties older than that, there is a potential that you could have been at risk of exposure. Any property constructed after 1999 will not contain the substance as use of it was completely outlawed that year.
How to check for asbestos?
If you are concerned about the substance, you should get an asbestos survey carried out by a qualified professional. If any asbestos is found, an asbestos management plan will be put in place to deal with the issue.
What are the consequences of exposure to the substance?
Those who have had prolonged exposure to the inhalation of asbestos fibres are most at risk of developing associated health problems.
Malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma – a rare form of cancer – and asbestosis – a chronic condition which causes inflammation of the lungs – and diffuse pleural thickening can all develop as a result of exposure to asbestos.
If you believe you have been exposed to asbestos, contact a claims management company like Your Accident Solicitors, so they can improve your chances of accessing compensation.
Working as a tradesman puts you at increased risk of exposure to asbestos, so you should ensure you are insured in case any problems occur.
Make sure you are trained
It is vital that anyone working with asbestos is properly trained. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has details of courses which are necessary if you or your employer are at risk of exposure to asbestos.
If you identify asbestos in a property you have people working in, it is important not to try and remove it yourself. Your local authority will be able to advise you how to handle it and they should be contacted in the first instance.
You may be able to undertake work without disturbing the asbestos, but you need to ensure you carry out a risk assessment first to establish if this is the case.
It may be that the work has to be completed by a licensed contractor who holds a license from the HSE. As an employer, it is your responsibility to discover if this is necessary and get the appropriate person on board if needs be.
Although the work may not need a licensed person to carry it out, it is vital that you or your employer puts in place a system of appropriate controls to minimise risk, details of which can be found on the HSE’s website.