General Construction 311 views Dec 17, 2018
The Hidden Danger: Understanding Asbestos

As an employer, safety is likely pretty high on your priority risk, ensuring that you and those you work with minimise the risk of accidents. Although it can be easy to incorporate various health and safety protocols in order to sufficiently protect yourself and your colleagues from immediate harm, it’s important to consider some of the hidden dangers that may be hidden within the walls.

Asbestos is a flame retardant used in a variety of building works across the country until its ban in the 1990s and remains a very serious danger to those who may be working in close proximity to the material. With this in mind, it’s useful to understand asbestos and how it still poses a threat.

What exactly is asbestos?

The term asbestos actually covers a group of naturally occurring materials made up of microscopic fibres. These silicate materials are split into six different types and can be found all across the globe. Its use in industry is due to its flame retardant properties and its use can be traced back to the Ancient Egyptians, who weaved asbestos cloth to preserve their dead.

However, it wasn’t until the industrial revolution that asbestos began to be used on a much larger scale, with over 30,000 tonnes of the lightweight fibre being mined across the globe every year by the early 1900s.

Although its effects as a dangerous material were documented as early as the late 1800s, asbestos was only fully banned in the UK with the prohibition of chrysotile in 1999. Because of this, a large percentage of buildings constructed before this point may have some form of asbestos built into it, making it a very present danger for many working in the industry.

What are the dangers?

Asbestos is not generally considered dangerous unless the microscopic fibres are inhaled or ingested. However, there is a host of problems that can occur from asbestos infiltrating your lungs that can range from minor to severe.

The four main diseases that can be contracted from asbestos are as follows:

Diffuse pleural thickening/pleural plaques - these two diseases occur from the inhalation of asbestos and cause scarring or plaque build-up to occur around the pleura; the double-layered membrane surrounding your lungs.

Asbestosis - the scarring of lung tissue, this can evolve into a host of more severe problems.

Asbestos-related lung cancer and Mesothelioma - two types of cancers that affect the various parts of the lung.

These problems may take years or even decades to surface so it’s imperative for those working in close proximity to older buildings to be adequately protected.

Keeping you protected from asbestos

Making sure that you’re working in an environment safe from the scourge of asbestos is essential, so if you believe you may have discovered some, it is imperative to bring in the experts.

Modbay, alongside our work in roofing and guttering, we offer a comprehensive asbestos stripping service, ensuring that you’re working safely.

 visit our website.