In the last few days, the Daily Mail in Great Britain has reported on the heart-breaking story of a Cardiff housewife who contracted a type of cancer called mesothelioma from washing both her husband’s and son’s work overalls when they were working at a local power station.  Their overalls were covered in asbestos fibres and a verdict of death by industrial disease was returned at an inquest into her death.  The couple received a small sum in compensation that was donated to charity.  Whilst this case highlights the horrific unforeseen consequences of the use of asbestos in building in the 20th century, and the way the damage lurks unseen for possibly decades, we are much more aware of the dangers today.  However, as an employer or person working with asbestos, it takes more than just awareness that it is a dangerous material to operate with truly safe procedures.  

Awareness of the Problem 

In the UK, they have the highest incidents of mesothelioma in the world and the use of asbestos was only officially banned in 1999; any buildings built or renovated before 2000 have the potential for asbestos contamination.  In America, asbestos use was similarly not banned until the late 90s; the grave repercussions of its potential handing means any company accountable for people working with it needs to be fully aware of their responsibilities.  Adequate training for management and employees should always be a priority.  

Categories of Asbestos handling 

In the UK, they have two types of asbestos handling, classified as non-licensable and licensable (in which a government permit is required).  In the USA, there are four classes of scheduled asbestos handling work relating to how much the material might be disturbed.  It is obviously a complex matter and if you are a building manager/owner or employee you need to know what is expected of you. 

Training and Help

 Training is not just about being aware of the dangers posed by asbestos, but also making sure the exact problems posed by your specific work and environment might pose.  Good training should give you knowledge about every step, and provide you with expert advice.  Whilst it is an important process, it does not have to cost you or your business too much time or money.  There are many experienced companies offering asbestos awareness training online you can consult.  Initially any good firm can assist you with a risk assessment, but any training should also cover (but not restricted to): 

  • Safe work practises and methods and explanation of safety gear
  • Selecting appropriate protective clothing
  • Waste handling and waste disposal
  • Emergency procedures
  • Legal requirements, permits etc.
  • Refresher training where needed 

As an employer, you need to ensure that all relevant employees undergo the necessary training and that all managers and supervisor understand their duties.  Make sure your training provider is competent and reputable and that your staff subsequently follows appropriate and safe work methods. It is a hazard we have all heard of due to tragic deaths like the housewife in Cardiff, however, the correct asbestos awareness training can help you as an employer avoid many more hazards.

Author bio: Inguinn Bjøru sent this very informative article.  Asbestos Awareness Training online  is more easily accessible than regular training courses and can be accessed from anywhere at any time.