Asbestos safety is one of the greatest industrial health concerns of the last century.
In the 1960s, the world medical community established clearly the mineral’s carcinogenic properties. Asbestos exposure can lead to a mesothelioma prognosis, lung cancer, asbestosis, pleural plaques and other abnormalities.
Research showed that these diseases mostly occur after a lifetime of continuous, high-level exposure, as in the case of an industrial worker. However, even one instance of asbestos exposure has the ability to increase a person’s risk for these illnesses.
Although it took many companies decades to eliminate their use of asbestos, preventing exposure is now a priority of occupational safety and health groups worldwide.
How to Stay Safe from Asbestos
Most asbestos exposure in the United States occurred before the 1980s. Asbestos was an industrial material and was used in thousands of products, most of which needed protection from heat and fire. Asbestos is heat- and fire-resistant, additionally prized because it is so inexpensive.
However, a temporary ban (which was replaced with less stringent yet still restrictive regulations) has drastically reduced the amount of asbestos being processed and used today.
Current asbestos threats are greatest in the construction sector. Renovations of any home that contains asbestos can lead to the development of an asbestos-related disease.
When performing renovations on a structure that was built before the 1980s, construction workers should assume that the building contains asbestos unless lab results confirm otherwise.
Before even setting foot on a jobsite where asbestos management is to be performed, industrial professionals must have completed an accredited asbestos training program. These programs, which are paid for by employers, outline asbestos safety techniques, including:
- Appropriate protective gear (i.e. respirators with HEPA filters)
- Inspection and sampling procedures
- Wet removal to reduce the likelihood of asbestos entering the air
- Safe disposal and cleanup methods
Adhering to these standards and the regulations set forth by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health can ensure asbestos safety on an industrial jobsite where exposure risks abound.
If these methods are not properly followed and/or asbestos exposure occurs on a job, workers must be sure to alert their medical provider about the exposure and follow through with asbestos disease screenings.
Guest Blogger, Faith Franz is a writer for the Mesothelioma Center. She combines her interests in whole-body health and medical research to educate the mesothelioma community about the newest developments in cancer care.
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