Why is Asbestos Dangerous?
Statistics show that asbestos causes over 4500 deaths per year. Most of these deaths are the result of mesothelioma and lung cancer, as well as certain instances of asbestosis and lung plaque. Mesothelioma is an always-fatal type of cancer that affects the protective linings of the lungs and stomach. Lung cancer is similarly fatal. Asbestosis occurs when the tissue of the lungs scars, and makes breathing a challenging task. Lunch plaque arises when calcified clusters of material form in the lungs, affecting the efficacy of the breathing process.
All of these fatal and debilitating conditions are why asbestos is considered a dangerous substance. Certain people are more at risk than others. For instance, asbestos miners and construction workers are at great risk, and have to take stringent measures to avoid breathing in asbestos fibres. Most asbestos-exposure takes place in the renovation and dismantlement of old houses. Here, construction workers can be exposed to 100X normal environmental levels of this mineral. Due to this, special practices should be followed in the avoidance of asbestos fibres, and also in the management of asbestos containing materials (ACMs). These practices are usually learned about in a standard Asbestos Awareness Course.
Why do Construction Workers Need Asbestos Training?
Asbestos started being phased out of construction work in Australia in the 1980s. It was finally banned in the early 2000s. Unfortunately, this means that all homes constructed before 2000 have a very high chance of containing asbestos. Therefore, all construction workers need to know how to manage asbestos when/if it is uncovered. They also need to know what to do in the event of the uncontrolled release of asbestos fibres.
What Does This Training Entail?
Topics in asbestos awareness training address the health effects of asbestos inhalation. These include studies on mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and lung plaque. Studies also include how smoking can be linked to the exacerbated development of these illnesses. Anyone involved in the construction industry should take the course, including maintenance workers, electricians, plumbers, roofers and shop fitters.
Training also shows learners how asbestos can manifest, and what the different kinds of naturally-occurring asbestos are. These include chrysotile, amosite and crocidolite. Trainees learn about all the common places where asbestos is found on site. Emergency procedures and asbestos-avoidance techniques are also taught in these sessions.
These courses also highlight the differences between friable asbestos, and relatively “stable” asbestos. Friable asbestos is the most dangerous kind, as it is capable of being crumbled by hand and released into the air. Highly friable asbestos products include spray-on insulation products. Non-friable asbestos can be found in floor and ceiling tiles, as well as in laboratory cabinet tops, shingles and fire doors.
Asbestos that isn’t friable is relatively safe, provided it isn’t disturbed through drilling, grinding, cutting, striking or sawing. All non-friable forms of asbestos should be removed with the utmost care. This involves the use of protective gear – including a top-quality respirator – and a strict adherence to safety protocol.
Good training will help bring down the annual number of asbestos-related illnesses per year. Thankfully, the banning of asbestos has given rise to new homes that are safely insulated with other substances, like fiberglass and cement-bond fibres.