Protect yourself against the hidden killer…
Buildings that were built before the year 2000 are likely to still contain asbestos and it is often in places that you can’t easily see it. If you are a plumber, heating and ventilation engineer, electrician, plasterer, joiner, or work in any similar trade, you are likely to come across this hidden killer in your work.
Do you know if there is asbestos where you are working?
If you’re unsure if there are asbestos materials where you are working, don’t start the work. Your manager should tell you if there is asbestos present and there should be an asbestos register for workplace buildings, you can ask to see this.
What should I do if asbestos is present?
Do not start work if:
- You haven’t been trained to work safely with asbestos
- The ACMs have sprayed coatings, board, or insulation and lagging on pipes and boilers (only licensed contractors should work on these). Some kinds of asbestos are too dangerous, which means you cannot work with them.
You may continue to work if:
- You have had the correct training to work with asbestos, the work has been planned and the right precautions and PPE are in place
- The materials are asbestos cement, textured coatings, and certain other materials which do not need a licence.
You can avoid working with asbestos if possible, but if you need to stop work then you should seek advice from your employer or the HSE.
How do I work safely with asbestos?
Remember to be prepared when working with asbestos, minimise the dust and protect yourself from breathing it in. It is a legal requirement for your employer to provide you with appropriate PPE and the relevant training.
Make sure you do the following:
- Don’t smoke, drink or eat in the working area
- Clean up as you go
- Double-bag any asbestos waste, label the bags, and dispose at an appropriate waste site
- Use hand tools – not power tools
- Wear properly fitted PPE (an ordinary dust mask will not be effective)
- Keep materials damp – not too wet
- Do not carry asbestos into your car or home. Wear suitable disposable PPE and boots without laces or disposable boot covers. (Do not take overalls home to wash and put disposable items in asbestos waste bags and dispose of them properly)
- When the work is finished, clean and decontaminate yourself and your area. Wipe down your overalls with a damp rag and remove them before removing your mask.
Always protect yourself and others around you. Asbestos dust kills!