Monthly Archives - March 2019

Asbestos in work

Asbestos in Work

This article follows on from our previous blog post, Asbestos the silent killer

Asbestos is the UK’s biggest cause of work-related deaths. In fact, Asbestos has claimed the lives of 50,000+ people in the last 3 decades. While Asbestos can take some time to develop it can cause Mesothelioma, asbestos is and lung cancer. These diseases don’t just affect workers, they can also affect their families if they have inadvertently come into contact with it.

It can take up to 30 years for someone to show symptoms of Mesothelioma and the other diseases that Asbestos can cause. This is why it’s often hard to work out what is causing the symptoms. Some people may not have realised they were working in a building that contained Asbestos or even realised that they had come into contact with Asbestos. This is usually why many people are shocked that they are suffering from Mesothelioma, asbestos is or lung cancer.

What Exactly is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral that was once quite widely used during the 1960s and 1970s. The reason behind its use comes down to the fact that it was considered to be a very versatile material in the building industry. While the use of Asbestos has been banned for many years it can still be found in some buildings. This is because some older buildings still stand and are considered to be structurally safe. While many old buildings have been torn down and replaced with something new, there are still old ones located all over the UK that contain Asbestos.

This material was once used in shipbuilding, insulation, textiles and fireproofing. Unfortunately, this means that thousands of people who worked in these industries were potentially exposed to it.

The Risk of Exposure Today

As we have already seen, Asbestos is no longer used due to its disease-causing properties. However, there is still a risk of exposure, especially in the construction industry. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advice on Asbestos is that there is still a high risk of exposure to people with certain job roles, in particular, those work as:

  • Carpenters
  • Construction Worker
  • Computer installation engineers
  • Demolition workers
  • Electricians
  • Fire and burglar alarm installers
  • Gas Fitters
  • General maintenance workers
  • Heating and ventilating engineers
  • Painters and Decorators
  • Plasterers
  • Plumbers
  • Roofing Contractors
  • Telephone engineers
  • Architects, Building Surveyors and other such professsionals

How Can Workers Stay Safe?

In our last blog on Asbestos, we looked at the training required to deal with the discovery of the substance along with what to do if Asbestos is uncovered. Here we look at the regulations that mean that the duty holder needs to manage workers’ exposure to Asbestos.

On non-domestic premises, under the regulations the duty holder must by law:

  • Identify materials that may contain Asbestos
  • Keep up to date records about the Asbestos
  • Assess the risk of exposure
  • Plan how any risks will be managed
  • Inform anyone who may work on the building
  • Inform anyone who may disturb the Asbestos

The Health and Safety Executive has an ‘Asbestos Licensing Unit’ that regulates every company who is working with Asbestos and grants them a licence to carry out any required work.

Asbestos Management Plans

If Asbestos is found to be present, then as the employer you should provide workers with a ‘management plan’ by law. This managment plan should identify the type of Asbestos that has been found, along with the type and level of exposure employees are likely to deal with. The plan will also cover how you plan to eliminate or reduce the exposure and how as the employer you intend to monitor the exposure of your employees.

As the employer i.e. Principal Contractor on a project, you should provide full and complete training along with any relevant information to employees that could be at risk of exposure.

Removing Asbestos

No attempts should ever be made to remove Asbestos unless you have a refurbishment and demolition survey in place. The survey will determine whether the asbestos removal will require a licensed contractor to remove. If so, prior to any removal an asb5 notification should be submitted to the HSE prior to carrying out the works. If the works are non licensed non-notifiable then appropriate removal training should have been received.

Once removal has taken place on the building the duty holder should keep all removal records for 40 years. From this, an updated management plan should be in place to reflect the items removed from the building and those that remain.

Suspected Exposure

There is always a risk when working with older buildings of Asbestos exposure, but employers can minimise the risks by putting in place work plans, appropriate PPE, Face-Fit Testing and the appropriate training. Effective communication of the dangers is key so that workers can carry out their roles with safety in mind and employers will be safe in the knowledge that they are doing everything they can to protect their team.

Asbestos Awareness Training

There is no legal requirement to repeat formal refresher awareness training every 12 months however, some form of refresher awareness as necessary, this may include e-learning or as part of other health and safety updates. If you require asbestos awareness training refresher our accredited e-learning asbestos awareness courses could be the solution. It provides an economical solution to your training needs and can fit around you and your business. For more information please see our training page.

 

Have a question?

If you would like to speak to us about any of our CDM services, then our team would be happy to help.

Grafters Awards 2019, CDM, CDM Manchester, CDM North West, Best Health and Safety Consultantancy

Safer Sphere shortlisted for Grafters awards

We are pleased to announce that we have been shortlisted for the ‘Best Health and Safety Consultancy’ award at the North West Grafters industry awards.

Mike Forsyth, Managing Director, Safer Sphere said “We are delighted to have been shortlisted for this award as it highlights the success of our business and our achievements. We were extremely lucky last year to take home ‘CDM Consultant of the Year’ at the National Association for Project Safety awards and ‘Small Business of the Year’ at the Pride of St Helens Business awards. This year we have made it to the final of the North West Construction Group awards and now we are have been shortlisted for Grafters award. We do not take anything for granted and being shortlisted for an award is fantastic recognition for our team. We are a small team of consultants, but we are growing and all our consultants are experts in their field as well as construction health and safety. It is down to the efforts and expertise of the team that we continue to support great clients on multiple construction projects up and down the UK.”

You can help us take home the award by heading over to the Grafters North West website and voting for us. The voting is now open and closes on Thursday 4th April at 5pm. Every vote counts! https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/M5VYFNT

Asbestos Health and safety

Asbestos the Silent Killer

While many buildings that once contained asbestos have now been torn down or had the asbestos removed, this dangerous substance still silently kills approximately 5,000 workers each year. This alarming figure is higher than the number of people that are killed on UK  roads each year.

 

Unfortunately, around 20 people die every week due to past asbestos exposure. However, the problem of asbestos is not confined to the past, it can still be present in any building that was built or any building that was refurbished before 2000.

Why is Asbestos Dangerous?

Asbestos is dangerous because it can cause hidden illness that may not appear for many years after someone has come into contact with it. This is why asbestos is known as “The Silent Killer”.

 

Exposure to asbestos can cause you to suffer from the following serious and fatal conditions:

 

Asbestos-related Lung Cancer

Asbestos-related lung cancer looks the same as lung cancer that has been caused by smoking and other behaviours/exposures. For every death that was caused by lung cancer, it is estimated that there is also one death from Mesothelioma.

Pleural Thickening

Pleural thickening is a condition that can be caused by heavy asbestos exposure. The lining of the pleura (Lung) becomes thick and swells. If the condition is particularly bad the lung can be squeezed. This can result in a lot of discomfort and shortness of breath.

Mesothelioma

This is a type of cancer that affects the lungs’ lining. It also affects the lining surrounding the lower digestive tract. Mesothelioma is usually associated with exposure to asbestos and, unfortunately, by the time someone has received a diagnosis the condition has usually reached a fatal stage.

Asbestosis

This condition is a serious one and sufferers often have serious scarring of their lungs. This condition is typically caused by heavy asbestos exposure over a number of years. Causing progressive shortness of breath, the condition can also be fatal.

 

Information on training

Employers should make sure that anyone who may disturb asbestos during their working day, or anyone who supervises the employees who may disturb asbestos gets the right training. They should have the knowledge and training that enables them to work in a safe and competent way without any risk to themselves or to other people. Safer Sphere can provide asbestos training

 

The Types of Necessary Training

All workers and their supervisors should be able to recognise any materials that contain asbestos and know exactly what they should do if they come across them. There are 3 levels of information, instruction and training that workers and their supervisors need to be aware of:

 

Asbestos awareness – This is made up of information, training and instruction and gives workers and their supervisors the information they need so they can avoid disturbing asbestos.

 

Licensable work with asbestos – This is made up of those who are at a high risk of working with asbestos. Only managers and competent workers are provided with this information, training and instruction that includes using the right PPE.

 

Non-licensable work with asbestos – Those who need this type of information, training and instruction undertake work that requires them to disturb materials that contain asbestos. For example, drilling holes in asbestos, cleaning or repairing asbestos roofing or cement sheets.

 

A worker who attends a training course about asbestos will not ensure that they are competent enough. Workers must implement and consolidate the skills that have learned during their training, in their instruction and assessment and their on the job learning.

 

The level of information and the amount of training and instruction that a worker receives must be appropriate for the work that they do. A Training Needs Analysis (TNA) will help the workers and those training them identify the topics that need to be covered. This is to ensure that every worker is competent and can avoid putting themselves and those who they work with at risk.

How do I Identify Asbestos?

It’s not always easy to identify asbestos, however, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has an image gallery which depicts some common materials that contain asbestos. These images include but are not limited to:

 

  • Asbestos fire blankets
  • Suspended AIB ceiling tiles
  • Pieces of AIB
  • AIB window panelling

 

What do I do if I Potentially Find Asbestos During my Work?

If you unexpectedly come across asbestos or something that you think may be asbestos you should stop work right away. You will need to confirm what the material is or assume that it is asbestos. You will need to carry out a risk assessment that will help you determine whether you need a licensed contractor to carry out the work.

 

If you undertake non-licensed work on asbestos you should only do so if you have had the appropriate training, instruction, and information.

If I Have to Work With Asbestos is it the Responsibility of my Employer to give me Personal Protective Clothing (PPE)?

Yes, if it is likely that you will be exposed to asbestos your employers should provide you with all the personal protective clothing (PPE) you need. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has more information on the required PPE.

Do I Need a Certificate That Proves I’ve had Asbestos Training?

No, there is absolutely no legal requirement for you to have a certificate that shows you’ve had training. However, some training providers issue certificates that indicate that you’ve completed an asbestos training course.

You can read part two of this asbestos article here

Have a question?

If you would like to speak to us about any of our CDM services, then our team would be happy to help.