How to Protect Workers from Asbestos
Despite a substantial decrease in the use of asbestos since the 1980s, illness and asbestos-related death remain constant. This is because mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers often don’t appear until 20 to 40 years after exposure.
Cleanup of ACM (asbestos-containing material) is an ongoing concern for employers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate 1.3 million construction and general industry workers are potentially exposed to asbestos each year.
Employers have a responsibility to protect workers from future harm caused by asbestos exposure. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) outlines the requirements employees and employers must obey to ensure the safe handling of hazardous substances such as asbestos.
Protecting workers from airborne asbestos requires a dedication to personal protection and abatement. Specialty abatement products can be applied efficiently without skimping on safety.
Personal Protection from Asbestos
The selection and use of personal protection equipment (PPE) for an asbestos-related activity should be based on risk assessments and determined by a person with proficiency and experience. These items should be provided to workers and kept in good working order.
Not all personal protection products deliver equal defense from airborne asbestos, and substituting or ignoring poor PPE choices could result in serious harm.
Examples of appropriate PPE include personal respirators, coveralls, footwear, and gloves.
Personal respirators reduce the risk of airborne asbestos exposure; use disposable respirators when possible.
Coveralls should be disposable and include a fitted hood and cuffs; avoid textured materials like wool, and use an option without pockets or Velcro fasteners.
Avoid lace-up footwear or boots; asbestos dust can settle on laces or eyelets.
All gloves should be disposable and worn during asbestos-related activity.
The U.S. no longer mines asbestos, but there’s still plenty of it in buildings that will eventually have to be removed, either during remediation or demolition.
Employers have several options when deciding on abatement equipment and tools. In recent years, new tools and equipment specifically address the health and safety needs of workers who regularly come in contact with airborne asbestos.
For example, BearAcade is a self-adhesive plastic sheeting that sticks to walls, ceilings, and floors for quick and effective coverage. This product is quicker (it covers about 4,000-square-feet in an hour) and cheaper to install than traditional plastic sheeting. Plus, the adhesive keeps the product in place so workers don’t trip or fall over scrunched plastic.
Look for BearAcade and other specialty abatement products to ensure workers have quality equipment to get the job done right. When it comes to the health of your workers – and the public – don’t cut corners.