6 Actions To Take In An Asbestos Emergency

Asbestos Emergency

When you’re caught up in an asbestos emergency it can be difficult to think clearly and react appropriately to minimise your own exposure, and that of those around you. Asbestos is a carcinogenic material and has the potential to cause life-threatening disease, so what should you do in the event of an asbestos emergency?

If asbestos fibres are inadvertently released or you unexpectedly come across unidentified materials that could contain asbestos, what are the right steps to take?

What to do in an asbestos emergency

Stop work

Cease work as soon as you know or suspect that asbestos is present – also warn anyone nearby of the situation. You’ll need to check whether you or your clothing is contaminated with dust or fibres before approaching anyone else, however. Put on respiratory protective equipment (RPE) to limit your exposure to airborne asbestos materials, and stay as still as possible so it doesn’t spread.

Start to deal with the contamination

Use damp rags or other damp fabric to wipe down your clothes – this helps to prevent more fibres and dust becoming airborne. When you can, make sure any affected clothing or rags are disposed of as contaminated waste, take a shower, and wash your hair to remove any remaining asbestos debris.

Isolate the area and inform a supervisor

Put up barriers or seal off the area if possible, and make sure people are aware of the asbestos emergency by displaying ‘potential asbestos contamination’ signs. Anyone already in the vicinity should go outside if possible. Also let your supervisor or site foreman know that asbestos has been released.

Check for dust and fibres on other clothing

Anyone in the area should be checked for asbestos dust and fibres on their clothes and hair. They should be carefully decontaminated where necessary, taking care not to sweep dust and debris around – any contaminated clothing or equipment should be disposed of appropriately.

Take dust and fibre samples

Samples of the debris will need to be tested by a professional to confirm that it is asbestos – if the results are positive, specialist asbestos contractors will also be needed to decontaminate and clean up the area. In an asbestos emergency, licensed contractors must be used to remove asbestos at the scene, and deal with the overall situation.

Officially recording asbestos emergencies

Due to the serious health risk, any emergency asbestos situation must be officially recorded and a note of the date and circumstances added to the health records of all involved. This is because asbestos-related diseases, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma, don’t typically manifest until several decades after exposure – in some cases up to 50 or 60 years later.

For more information on what to do in an asbestos emergency, call our highly experienced consultants at Acorn Analytical Services.

We’re a professional asbestos consultancy helping businesses deal with asbestos compliance using asbestos surveys, asbestos testing, and asbestos removal. Please call one of the team, or use the online form to obtain your free quotation.

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

Need Help? Request a Call Back

Request a call back from one of our expert Asbestos Consultants who will help you identify what you need

More Asbestos Articles

Sam Savage Commercial Director

Commercial Director Sam Savage talks about his first 3 weeks

Last month we announced Sam Savage had joined Acorn Analytical Services as our Commercial Director, working out of the Northampton office and covering the South of England. Sam joins the business from an another asbestos consultancy where he worked for more than 20 years, working his way up from a trainee right through to contracts … Read more

Asbestos Awareness Training

Asbestos Awareness Training – the importance of practising what we preach

At Acorn, we work hard to educate everyone about the dangers of asbestos. One of the ways we do this is through our UKATA accredited Asbestos Awareness training courses. Being a UKATA Approved Training Provider not only demonstrates that Acorn Analytical Services is committed to delivering the highest standard of asbestos training, it also means … Read more

Have you ever wondered what the consequences could be if a company fails to protect workers from asbestos exposure?

Asbestos exposure risk leads to jail sentences

Have you ever wondered what the consequences could be if a company fails to protect workers from asbestos exposure? At Acorn, we work hard to educate the public about the dangers of asbestos which remains the world’s biggest workplace killer. When asbestos is disturbed it releases tiny fibres into the air which can cause a … Read more

MPs want asbestos to be removed from public and commercial buildings within the next 40 years.

MPs fight for asbestos to be removed from public buildings

Last week, MPs called for all asbestos to be removed from public and commercial buildings within the next 40 years. The Government’s Work and Pensions Select Committee wants the asbestos to be removed because the substance remains the biggest workplace killer in the UK with around 5,000 deaths linked to it every year. Even though … Read more

During Global Asbestos Awareness Week charities and organisations around the world will be working hard to raise awareness about the dangers of asbestos which remains the globe’s biggest workplace killer.

Hitting back at hidden killer during Global Asbestos Awareness Week 2022

Today marks the start of Global Asbestos Awareness Week. Between now and April 7, charities and organisations around the world will be working hard during Global Asbestos Awareness Week to raise awareness about the dangers of asbestos which remains the globe’s biggest workplace killer. In the UK, the use of asbestos was banned more than … Read more

Acorn Analytical Services is proud to be helping women to #BreakTheBias.

#BreakTheBias – International Women’s Day 2022

Today, Acorn is incredibly proud to be supporting International Women’s Day. The United Nations began marking the global event back in 1977 and the day is now recognised as the focal point in the movement for women’s rights. This year means a lot to our diverse team at Acorn because the theme for 2022 is … Read more

International Women's Day Emma

International Women’s Day 2022

To mark International Women’s Day, we wanted to introduce you to a couple of Acorn Analytical Service’s fantastic female employees. The asbestos industry – like the construction industry in general – is a male dominated sector but at Acorn we are fortunate to work with several brilliant female employees, including asbestos analysts, asbestos surveyors and … Read more

Do you ever stop to think about whether you could be exposed to asbestos in your home?

Workers exposed to asbestos during refurbishment

Do you ever stop to think about whether you could be exposed to asbestos in your home? During the 20th century asbestos was used heavily by the UK’s construction industry and even though its use has been banned for more than two decades its legacy lives on in our homes, garages, workplaces and public buildings. … Read more

Rare Disease Day is held every year on February 28 to raise awareness and generate change for the 300 million people worldwide living with a rare disease

Rare Disease Day 2022

Did you know that Rare Disease Day is taking place on Monday? Rare Disease Day is held every year on February 28 to raise awareness and generate change for the 300 million people worldwide living with a rare disease and for their families and carers. More than 600 events will be taking place across the … Read more

The Government’s Work and Pensions Committee has been carrying out an inquiry into the HSE's approach to asbestos management

Asbestos management inquiry held by Government

Over the past few months, the Government’s Work and Pensions Committee has been carrying out an inquiry into the approach of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to asbestos management in buildings. There are six million tonnes of asbestos in the UK, most of which can be found in more than 1.5 million buildings across … Read more