Monitoring asbestos materials in the workplace

asbestos materials in the workplace.

Current health and safety practices mean that asbestos materials found in the workplace are left alone if they are intact, but arguments have been made for asbestos monitoring practices to be altered.

Given that asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) naturally degrade over time, and many were installed thirty years ago or more, the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres could increase the longer they remain in place.

So how are asbestos materials currently monitored, and could more be done to protect health and safety, particularly with regard to vulnerable school children?

Monitoring of asbestos materials

Asbestos regulations impose a ‘duty to manage’ on owners and occupiers of non-domestic premises. This duty initially includes establishing whether asbestos-containing materials are present in a building and if so, keeping a record of their whereabouts and condition.

These obligations are generally met by way of asbestos management surveys, with regular reinspections taking place to manage the ongoing risk. Asbestos reinspections are generally undertaken on a yearly basis as a minimum, with previously identified ACMs being visually examined for damage and deterioration – through wear and tear or weathering, for example.

The risk of asbestos exposure for employees and visitors is then determined based on the results, but a question arises as to whether these practices are sufficiently detailed considering the nature of asbestos.

Should reinspection procedures routinely include asbestos air testing rather than just visually inspecting asbestos materials?

The danger of degraded asbestos materials

As asbestos materials degrade they can release tiny fibres into the air, which once inhaled, may cause life-threatening disease later in life. The latest figures show that 2,595 asbestos victims died from mesothelioma in 2016, with asbestos-related lung cancer deaths being placed at a similar level.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) believe asbestos-related mortality rates will fall during the next decade, but an unexpected scenario could emerge due to a combination of early asbestos exposure in schools where ongoing low-level inhalation of asbestos fibres takes place and increased life expectancies.

Asbestos materials extensively used in school buildings

Asbestos-related illness doesn’t generally manifest until several decades after the first exposure. This is why concerns are arising regarding the threat to children, given the prolific use of asbestos materials in school buildings prior to the asbestos ban in 1999.

Asbestos was used as an insulating and fireproofing material and is commonly present in classroom partition walling, ceiling and floor tiles, boiler rooms, and covering pipework around buildings.

Asbestos air testing may provide a more accurate view of the threat to health in any given area of a building, such as a school classroom or dining room. A more in-depth picture of the risk would emerge, and it’s possible that remediation works could be less costly for the local authority or building owner.

Acorn Analytical Services are professional asbestos consultants and can help you manage the risk posed by asbestos materials in the workplace. Among other services, we offer asbestos management surveys, reinspection surveys, asbestos air testing, and asbestos sample testing. Please contact one of our highly trained and experienced consultants to find out more.

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

Leicester Hospital Leads Mesothelioma Treatment Trials

Two new treatments are being tested in the East Midlands for an aggressive cancer caused mainly by exposure to asbestos. The research into mesothelioma is being done at Leicester’s Glenfield Hospital. Mesothelioma most commonly starts in the inner lining of the chest wall causing it to thicken and reduce lung capacity, which in turn puts …

Read MoreLeicester Hospital Leads Mesothelioma Treatment Trials

Quote 1

Acorn join the Federation of Small Businesses

Acorn Analytical Services are pleased to announce that we have successfully joined the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). What is the FSB? The FSB is non-profit making and non-party political. The Federation of Small Businesses is the UK’s largest campaigning pressure group promoting and protecting the interests of the self-employed and owners of small firms. Formed …

Read MoreAcorn join the Federation of Small Businesses

938308 4da8f9a0 596x300 1

Carlisle Housing Association Admits Asbestos Failings

A housing association in Carlisle has admitted serious failings with regards to asbestos. Riverside Housing has advised they have no idea how many of their properties contain asbestos. Best estimates are around 3,000 which is half of it 6,000 property portfolio. Asbestos was extensively used within the construction industry throughout the UK from the 1930s …

Read MoreCarlisle Housing Association Admits Asbestos Failings

asbestos through a scope

New Asbestos ACOP for Working With Asbestos

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released a consultation document proposing the new Approved Code of Practice (ACOP)  for working with asbestos. It has invited comments and responses (to be received no later than 30 September 2013) as part of a consultative exercise into a proposed consolidated version of its Approved Code of Practice …

Read MoreNew Asbestos ACOP for Working With Asbestos

cwmcarn

Asbestos removal worker dies in Cwmcarn school

Health and Safety Executive leading investigation after 26-year-old asbestos removal worker dies in Cwmcarn school. A police and health and safety investigation has been launched following the death of an asbestos removal worker at an asbestos-hit school. Paramedics were called to Cwmcarn High, near Newport, on Friday after a 26 year old collapsed. The school …

Read MoreAsbestos removal worker dies in Cwmcarn school

Management Survey 2

Who should you commission for your asbestos surveys?

There are many companies that provide asbestos consultancy and asbestos surveys, sometimes at what initially appears to be at low cost. However, before commissioning an company to undertake such work it is important to ask yourself the following: Are you confident that the company has the technical competence to undertake the asbestos survey? Are you satisfied that the company has the resources …

Read MoreWho should you commission for your asbestos surveys?

DSCF0017

Children are at greater risk from exposure to asbestos!

A special scientific consultative committee to the Government has concluded that children are at greater risk from exposure to asbestos than adults. Pressure is now being placed on the Government to act upon the findings and undertake full review of current policies in relation to asbestos in schools. The Department for Education’s – Asbestos in Schools …

Read MoreChildren are at greater risk from exposure to asbestos!

Acorn Lower Service 55

What happens when asbestos goes wrong?

What happens when asbestos goes wrong? Every day there are incidents with asbestos that could have easily been avoided. Here we have highlighted recent incidents that have been highlighted in the press during January 2013: Engineering Company and Building Company Fined In January two companies had to pay just under £30,000 pounds in costs and fines …

Read MoreWhat happens when asbestos goes wrong?

Asbestos Awareness

Is asbestos an issue for employers in 2013?

Answer: Yes it is. A lot of people are still surprised to find out that asbestos is an issue within the UK. The last set of figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that 4,759 people are currently dying each year from various diseases related to asbestos exposures. This figure has increased …

Read MoreIs asbestos an issue for employers in 2013?

Asbestos removal 2

Acorn Help Raise Money for Help The Heroes

Saturday 4th May 2013 saw the second Tough Mudder event at Boughton House, Kettering. Taking part and helping to raise money for Help The Heroes was Acorn Analytical Services Director – Neil Munro. Tough Mudder® events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by Special Forces to test all around strength, stamina, determination, and camaraderie. …

Read MoreAcorn Help Raise Money for Help The Heroes