The Dangers of Asbestos: What You Need to Know

Asbestos related diseases cause more than 170 deaths in New Zealand every year, making it our number one workplace killer. Two in every three cases reported to the National Asbestos Register are tradespeople such as electricians, plumbers, builders and construction workers.

We don’t need to tell you that asbestos is a big deal. The dangers around asbestos are common knowledge. And knowledge is power, in this case, more so than most: the power to save lives.

With this in mind, we’d like to give you some basic information on the dangers of asbestos, where it can be found and what you can do to avoid it.

 

What are the different types of asbestos?

There are two types of asbestos:

  • Friable (Class A): crushed or in a dust form, such as paper backing on vinyl or pipe lagging
  • Non-friable (Class B): found in bonded products such as cement sheet and guttering.

 

Why is it so dangerous?

Inhaling asbestos fibres can cause a range of irreversible damage and diseases. Damage may occur in as little as five years or as long as 40-50 years later. Many people will not realise they have been exposed until it’s too late.

 

Where can it be found?

Any building constructed up until the year 2000 has a high probability of containing asbestos. Remember, if you’re planning to renovate or partially demolish a building, have a survey done first to identify if asbestos containing material (ACM) is present. If it is, contact your local asbestos removalist.

 

Is there a safe way to dispose of asbestos?

Yes, there is. And it is vital you don’t attempt to remove asbestos yourself. We cannot stress the importance of this.

Removal of ACM greater than 10m² can only be performed by a licensed removalist. 

Disposal must meet strict guidelines. Bagging and wrapping asbestos pieces is essential in any sort of removal – and dumping asbestos-containing materials can only be done on authorised sites. Leave this to the asbestos specialists – trust us on this one. 

Clearance certificates are documented records of the removal and correct disposal. Keep these records on-hand with the other site documentation.

 

What more can you do?

Recognition means everything when it comes to asbestos. From signage on-site to equipping your team with knowledge of asbestos dangers through the HazardCo app, educating your workers could be the difference between life and death.

There are many asbestos training courses available online for additional education and training.

 

Did you know?

Asbestos was used as fake snow in the Wizard of Oz. With the appearance of fluffy white snow, amosite asbestos was sold as Christmas decoration from the 1930s right up to the 1950s. The Wizard of the Oz wasn’t the only film to use asbestos as fake snow, with both White Christmas and It’s A Wonderful Life both using it for its snow-like effect. 

 

Need more information?

HazardCo’s Advisory Team can help with any asbestos questions or other health and safety matters. Call them on 0800 555 339.

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