Asbestos is the leading cause of death by mesothelioma, and it’s no wonder that some studies have found that the UK has the highest rates. Meanwhile HSE’s own estimates put around 20 tradespeople at risk of dying each week following asbestos exposure.

A lot of the buildings in Britain were constructed with asbestos during the 20th century and a lot of employees could be working near it.

That’s why it’s important to be aware of how to safely work around asbestos and how to avoid coming into contact with it. And if you need to dispose of any asbestos-contaminated hazardous waste, you should do so in a safe manner.

Who is likely to be working with asbestos?

It’s highly likely that most employees will never have to worry about the danger of asbestos because it is generally concealed.

Jobs that often involve exposure to asbestos include work in construction, manufacturing and transportation.

Occupations where asbestos is considered a workplace hazard:

  • Construction and demolition contractors
  • Firefighters
  • Industrial workers
  • Tradesmen
  • Surveyors
  • Telecommunications engineer
  • Maintenance engineers

Why was asbestos used in the construction industry?

Asbestos has a long history of usage. More recently, it has been commonly used in commercial buildings as insulation, paneling or floor tiles. It is also used for decoration purposes like Artex stucco or art.

Once at peak use, the UK was importing over 170,000 tonnes of asbestos each year because of its appealing properties. In the 1960s and 70’s people used it a lot because:

  • Cheap
  • Widely available
  • Strong
  • Insulating
  • Fire resistant
  • Heat resistant
  • Sound absorbing

Despite what it has to offer, the harmful effects of asbestos can manifest decades later. This is one of the reasons why they have been outlawed in many countries.

Where can you find asbestos?

Whilst often used for a number of different purposes in the past, asbestos is now banned in the UK. According to research from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), there are currently 499,990 buildings that contain asbestos.

Commonly used uses for asbestos in properties included:

  • Fireproof coatings
  • Concrete and cement
  • Bricks
  • Pipes
  • Gaskets
  • Insulation
  • Drywall
  • Flooring
  • Roofing
  • Joint compound
  • Paints and sealants

What is so dangerous about asbestos?

Asbestos became infamous because it was both dangerous to those who worked in asbestos mines and people who breathed the dust or ate it accidentally. The asbestos dust was everywhere, making any mask useless. Dutch made a new type of building material called cement, which eventually took over as the material of choice in construction.

The use of asbestos is hazardous, and it stays in our lungs for years.

What are the health hazards associated with asbestos?

Longer and more frequent exposures to asbestos can be dangerous, not just when it is first inhaled. It’s known to cause life altering diseases even years after the initial exposure.

Mesothelioma -Asbestos-related lung cancer is almost always fatal. It’s a type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and is usually associated with exposure to asbestos.

Other serious lung diseases also attributed to asbestos include:

Asbestosis is a lung disease which can lead to pleural thickening. It might not always be fatal, but it has a significant impact on how long you live and your quality of life.

Asbestos-related deaths in the UK still happen today, 20 years after it was banned. The problem is that there are no symptoms at first to tell you if you’re at risk of asbestos-related death, so early detection is very difficult.

It’s always advisable to hire assistance from a waste disposal professional like Wastege. Contact our team now.


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