According to the HSE (see Cancer and construction: Asbestos), Asbestos is the biggest occupational disease risk to construction workers. Its commissioned research estimates it was responsible for the death of over 2,500 construction workers in 2005 – more than two-thirds of cancer deaths in the industry.
How long does it take to develop symptoms of Asbestos exposure?
Repeated exposure to Asbestos increases your risk of developing asbestos-related diseases in the future as the effect is cumulative. These diseases however will not affect you immediately as it can take 15 to 60 years to develop any symptoms.
Can I prevent my risk to Asbestos?
There are a number of steps you can take, with the first being that you should know when the property was constructed. Any building built before 2000 has this risk and you must assume that there are Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) present, until proved otherwise.
Asbestos - what do I need to do before starting work?
Before the start of maintenance, refurbishment, demolition or any other type of construction work, employers must identify the presence of Asbestos as part of their risk assessment.
Since owners or managers of non-domestic premises have a duty to manage Asbestos, this information should be readily available in their live asbestos Management Plan. The plan must contain an Asbestos Register and be made available to anyone carrying out work to help them to manage the risks of exposure to themselves, their employees and others.
You should ask to see a copy of this to help you assess the risks and decide on any control measures you may need to put in place BEFORE STARTING WORK.
Think you have an issue with Asbestos?
If you've read this article and think you may need some advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch. It is far safer (and cheaper) to manage your Asbestos risk in advance than it is to manage an Asbestos exposure and site contamination after the fact.
Asbestos management is complex, but with our help it doesn't have to be complicated.