Asbestos occurs naturally in the form of silicate mineral consisting of many fibres. When it is disturbed it can produce dust containing fibres.
Asbestos or Asbestos containing material (ACM) that remains undisturbed is unlikely to release airborne asbestos into the air and thus the risk to health is low. If ACM or asbestos is disturbed or deteriorated in condition, it is likely to cause a health hazard.
Prolonged exposure to asbestos fibres can lead to serious and often fatal health risks such as asbestosis, pleural plaque, cancer and mesothelioma. A vast majority of these asbestos related illnesses are contracted through occupation related activities. This has resulted to asbestos litigation which is a concern to employers, employees and insurers.
It is therefore important that employers ensure that workers are not exposed to asbestos and in addition, the national exposure standard for asbestos should not be exceeded. The safest way is ensuring zero exposure or exposure that is reduced to as low as practicably possible.
A work place can manage the risk associated with asbestos in the following ways;
- Ensuring that asbestos is removed by a licensed professional who has undertaken relevant
- Asbestos registers and a management plan are maintained in accordance with the legislation
- Providing air monitoring and health surveillance where there is a risk to health due to
- Employing the hierarchy of control that includes one or a combination of the following
methods –Isolation, Substitution, Engineering, Administrative and Personal Protective
Penalties are applied where offences have been committed in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996.
Safe practices that comply with the legislation and codes of practice for the management and control of asbestos in workplaces NOHSC 2018 (2005) need to be in place so that workers and the community at large are not exposed.
James Pettit (OHS & Management Services) can assist your business with meeting the legislative compliance requirements in managing asbestos risk by developing asbestos management plans that include workplace inspections to identify asbestos containing materials, conducting asbestos air monitoring, sample collection and analysis, development of an asbestos register, risk assessments associated with asbestos containing materials and providing asbestos training and awareness programs.