Asbestos awareness is a vital component of workplace safety in many industries. Asbestos was once viewed as the miracle product, suitable for almost all insulation needs and numerous other applications.
However, scientists have since discovered that it’s incredibly damaging to our health. While it’s been banned in the UK since 1999, you can still find it in many older buildings.
Find out more about asbestos and how to improve your asbestos awareness below.
7 Facts About Asbestos Awareness
1. Asbestos is a natural material
Although Asbestos comes in different types, the most widely used was Chrysotile (or ‘white’ asbestos). It consists of curly long thin fibres that easily break down to smaller respirable fibres. It was used in more than 3000 different products including insulation and roof sheets.
Due to its appearance, many people assume asbestos is manmade (or at least processed). However, it’s an entirely natural product that is quarried from the ground.
We’ve previously written in more detail about the different kinds of asbestos, so check that article out for more.
2. Asbestos was the miracle material
Human use of asbestos dates back more than 6000 years. Ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks all used asbestos for strengthening cooking pots, as lamp wicks, and for embalming bodies (Just pop in to the British Museum and look at the Mummies if you need proof!)..
Its history as a fire-retardant material is clearly well known. It was only in the Industrial Revolution that it really took off as a commercial product and it was thrown into everything from ceiling tiles, roof sheets and insulation to car parts and clothing.
Asbestos even entered the Golden Age of cinema, where it was used as fake snow. It replaced cotton dust, which caused fires and explosions. As a fire-resistant material, shooting asbestos dust around the set seemed like a perfect replacement.
As we now know, the use of asbestos was perhaps much worse than cotton dust.
Although early research from the 19th century highlighted its risks, it was too profitable for such scandal. By 1973, the USA used 804,000 tons of asbestos a year, but this began to rapidly decline soon after. It was during the 1970s that asbestos awareness grew and its dangers were better understood.
3. We breathe in asbestos fibres
Asbestos breaks off into little fibres when it’s disturbed. We then breathe these tiny fibres in, which is what causes the damage.
The fibres can be so tiny that they are often invisible to the naked eye, hence why its nickname, “the invisible killer” was coined some years ago.
Therefore, asbestos removal is a highly skilled process that requires specialised knowledge, training, tools and personal protective equipment. If you ever find asbestos in a building, ensure you don’t remove it yourself.
4. Asbestos causes numerous health problems
A second, common health condition is asbestosis which scars the lungs, and causes various symptoms. These include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and more.
As asbestos awareness grows, we’re becoming more familiar with the signs and long-term impact of asbestos exposure.
5. Health conditions can take years to diagnose
Asbestos is widely believed to cause long-term damage, and as a result can take years to recognise and diagnose.
This is primarily because of the long incubation period of asbestos-related diseases. For example, mesothelioma has an incubation period of 20 to 60 years.
Unfortunately, this means related conditions can cause irreparable damage before it has even been diagnosed.
6. There are no “safe” levels of asbestos
As asbestos awareness grew, governments introduced restrictions on its use and exposure levels. But, there are no safe levels of asbestos exposure.
While not everyone who’s exposed to asbestos will develop health problems, the risk certainly increases. Short-term exposure is believed to be (comparatively) low-risk. But, due to long incubation periods causing a lack of available data, no one is 100% certain of this.
The important thing to note is that asbestos exposure is cumulative, meaning it becomes a greater risk the longer it goes on.
7. It’s still a surprisingly high cause of death
The HSE reports that around 20 tradespeople a week die from asbestos-related conditions in the UK.
Due to how long it takes for related illnesses to present, this figure will likely remain high for some time.
Hopefully, due to increasing levels of asbestos awareness, and training being more readily available, this figure will decrease over time.
What is Asbestos Awareness?
Asbestos awareness is information regarding the presence of asbestos in the workplace and its related health complications. Due to its prolific use, this can affect almost any industry.
Asbestos awareness training is suitable for anyone exposed to asbestos or for managers of workers exposed to it. We recommend our asbestos awareness training for anyone in construction or maintenance, but also for workers/management in older buildings.
About Asbestos Awareness Training
Shout Out Safety’s Asbestos Awareness training course is designed for trainees to get the most out of the available information. We try to make the course as entertaining as it can be to ensure the highest levels of engagement possible.
Our training course complies with the relevant legal requirements, particularly the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and the L143 Code of Practice.
We recommend the course for various maintenance and construction professionals (you can find a full list on the course training page). It’s worth mentioning that it’s a legal requirement for anyone working on any building built before 1999 to have a valid asbestos awareness certificate).
How Long Does an Asbestos Awareness Cert Last?
An asbestos awareness cert lasts for a year from the date of completion. You’ll then need to sit a refresher course every year after, as it’s a legal requirement under the 2012 regulations.
Luckily, our asbestos awareness training takes around 30 minutes and is easy to follow. So, you might have to do it annually, but it doesn’t take long to complete. We also have asbestos awareness refresher courses available.
Conclusion – Asbestos Awareness
Asbestos awareness is vital for ensuring workplace safety, particularly in older buildings. It’s only by understanding the dangers and safe working practices that we can prevent asbestos-related health conditions wherever possible.
If you need to arrange asbestos awareness training for you or your employees, contact Shout Out Safety for more information. Our course is quick, easy, and as fun as possible, and we even offer a discount for bulk orders.