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

Label asbestos

Do you need to label asbestos?

As an experienced multi-disciplined asbestos consultancy we are regularly asked by clients if they need to label their asbestos. There is a misconception that asbestos has to be labelled but this is not the case. You don’t actually have to label asbestos but you do have to manage it. In my mind, it is good …

Read MoreDo you need to label asbestos?

PVA asbestos

PVA as an encapsulant

In this blog we are talking about PVA as an encapsulant of asbestos. PVA stands for Polyvinyl Acetate and is a glue-like substance, best known as a wood glue, white glue or school glue. It is a safe glue and doesn’t burn your skin. It is easily washable and is water based. It used to …

Read MorePVA as an encapsulant

Non licensed contractor

What you need to know about non-licensed asbestos contractors?

We recently had a query from one of our clients that we wanted to share with you in this blog. They are a contractor working in the commercial and retail sectors and occasionally they have to remove bolts from floors which may contain asbestos. Their query was about wearing the correct PPE (personal protective equipment) and RPE (respiratory protective equipment) to carry out the work safely. …

Read MoreWhat you need to know about non-licensed asbestos contractors?

Asbestos Emergencies

Asbestos emergencies – what to do?

In this blog we will discuss asbestos and emergency situations. We will look at what can go wrong, who can be affected and how to control and minimise risks from those situations. Who is at risk? To begin with we need to consider who is at risk of coming into contact with asbestos. It comes down to a list of people …

Read MoreAsbestos emergencies – what to do?

Asbestos Insulating Board

Asbestos insulating boards and the problems with their removal

Asbestos insulating boards are boards that have a high asbestos content usually containing Amosite (Brown) and can also contain Chrysotile (White) asbestos. When you look at an unpainted board you can see the asbestos fibres. The boards can be easily damaged and can easily release asbestos fibres. They tend to be off white or grey …

Read MoreAsbestos insulating boards and the problems with their removal

What does asbestos look like

What is asbestos?

This is a question we get asked a lot. But, for the purposes of this blog, we think it is worth exploring what asbestos isn’t. Firstly, there is a big misconception that asbestos is man-made, but that’s not the case. The shortest and easiest way to describe asbestos is that it is a mineral which …

Read MoreWhat is asbestos?

Asbestos Removal in hot conditions

Life-Changing issues surrounding asbestos removal in hot conditions

Working with asbestos brings many complications and there are many risks which need to be assessed and actions are taken to reduce those risks. However, asbestos removal in hot conditions can pose a significate risk to the health of the workers involved. Examples of asbestos removal in hot conditions Asbestos removal quite often happens in …

Read MoreLife-Changing issues surrounding asbestos removal in hot conditions

Asbestos awareness training (2)

Don’t forget your legal duty to provide asbestos awareness training

Asbestos awareness training enables workers who are likely to come into contact with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) to recognise and avoid disturbing them. In doing so, they protect their own health and safety, as well as that of their co-workers and people nearby. This type of training is particularly important for tradespeople and construction-related workers, including …

Read MoreDon’t forget your legal duty to provide asbestos awareness training

Asbestos Emergency

6 Actions To Take In An 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 …

Read More6 Actions To Take In An Asbestos Emergency

DSCF0564 e1431533668372

How dangerous is asbestos?

Asbestos continues to cause serious health concerns even though the substance was banned in the UK in 1999. Originally used for fireproofing and insulating, and typically encased in concrete and other building materials, it’s been the subject of controversy for decades. So exactly how dangerous is asbestos, and why is there such a risk associated …

Read MoreHow dangerous is asbestos?