Asbestos at Work: Possible Health Risks

Due to its negative effect on people’s health, asbestos is no longer used in construction, brake linings, clutch facings, and so on. However, the fact that at one point asbestos fibres were widely used cannot be ignored. Even though there’s no worry about the added asbestos problem, asbestos used in the past still remains an issue, especially when it comes to work-related exposure to this toxic substance. In that respect, it’s crucial that workplace safety and risk management be taken seriously. What’s more, being aware of possible health risks is also necessary when one’s line of work might involve asbestos exposure.

How to manage asbestos risks properly

When it comes to work-related exposure to asbestos, it’s crucial that proper risk management is followed. For starters, it’s necessary to assess the presence of asbestos at a particular workplace, label it and then enter this finding into an asbestos register. Once that bit is done and over with, it’s essential to analyze the risk level of airborne asbestos. The next logical step involves the implementation of control measures so that the asbestos risk can be completely eliminated or at least minimized. Finally, it’s crucial that the control measures are reviewed in order to ensure their efficiency. 

Asbestos at Work

Going about the control measures

There’s a certain hierarchy that has to be respected when control measures are concerned, too. That said, the risk of asbestos has to be approached thoroughly. Obviously, the most effective control measure involves the procedure of complete asbestos removal. However, sometimes this is not entirely possible. Therefore, other control measures such as substituting and isolating the risk or applying engineering controls are in order. Administrative controls such as safe work practices and labeling are also a must. 

Asbestos and health risks

Unfortunately, not many people are aware of the most common health risks associated with asbestos exposure. It’s true that undisturbed asbestos is not a danger per se, but once it starts deteriorating so much so that the particles can get dispersed into the air, the toxicity of this substance can affect one’s health considerably. As the main issue stems from inhaling asbestos, the most concerning health risks have everything to do with the lungs. That said, the following health issues make the person eligible for asbestos claims: asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma and other asbestos-related pleural diseases that are non-malignant are common health hazards that can accompany asbestos exposure. 

Asbestos at Work

Most at-risk occupations

Most people would assume that construction workers and builders are at the highest risk when it comes to asbestos exposure. And, this is true. However, there are plenty of other occupations that can put the workers in the path of asbestos exposure. That said, it’s crucial that everyone is aware of potential health hazards. Engineers, firefighters, manufacturing/industrial workers, mechanics, military personnel, oil refinery workers, railroad and shipyard workers and even hairdressers (hair dryers made before 1970 commonly contained asbestos) all need to have proper work safety regulations established in order to avoid or minimize possible health risks associated with asbestos. 

What to do if you get exposed to asbestos at work?

In case you, as a worker, believe that you came into contact with toxic asbestos while at the workplace, it’s crucial that you notify your work supervisor about this as soon as possible. This is the time when you also want to discuss the working conditions and safety regulations thoroughly. Obviously, make sure that you visit the doctor in order to immediately start monitoring the signs for any of the asbestos-related diseases. As mentioned, workers who have been exposed to asbestos in their workplace, meaning that the work supervisors haven’t gone through proper asbestos control measures and work safety regulations, have their legal rights and claims. 

Being exposed to asbestos once doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll instantly have asbestos-related health issues. In that respect, you don’t have to let stress consume you. But, it’s still important that you consult the doctor ASAP. Furthermore, asbestos control measures need to be reviewed every once in a while. If you’re aware that your line of work can get you into contact with asbestos, make it a point to check with your work supervisors whether these control measures are adequately reviewed and reinforced.