As you sit in your office, you might be close to an assassin that kills an average of 13 people a day in the United Kingdom. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this murderer might be just waiting for an opportunity to suffocate you.
The villain mentioned above is asbestos – a naturally occurring mineral widely used in construction and other industries for its fire-resistant and insulating properties. Despite its numerous benefits, asbestos is a silent killer that has claimed thousands of lives worldwide.
The reason asbestos is so hazardous is its unique physical properties. Asbestos fibres are thin and durable, allowing easy inhalation.
These particles penetrate deep into the lungs, where they cause scarring and inflammation. Over time, this leads to various respiratory diseases, including lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart.
Considering how dangerous it is, you might wonder why so many companies used it in the past. The answer is that asbestos fibres are resistant to heat, fire and chemicals, making them ideal for use in various industrial applications, such as insulation, roofing, and flooring. However, this also means that when asbestos-containing materials are disturbed, such as during construction or demolition, the fibres can become airborne and pose a significant risk to workers and those around them.
As the health risks associated with asbestos became more widely known, many countries banned the use of products containing the mineral. In the UK, this prohibition was implemented in 1999.
Unfortunately, this legislation came too late for many workers who had already been exposed to asbestos over the years. Additionally, many buildings constructed before the ban still have asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), which can pose a risk to anyone who comes into contact with them.
It’s imperative to note that when ACMs are in good condition and not damaged or disturbed, they do not pose an immediate danger. But, when these materials are broken or damaged, such as during property renovations or demolition, asbestos fibres can be released into the air, putting workers and residents at risk of inhaling them.
In the UK, regulations require building owners and employers to manage the risk of asbestos in their properties. It includes identifying and assessing ACMs, preparing an asbestos management plan, and ensuring that any work involving asbestos-containing materials is carried out by trained and licensed professionals.
If you suspect that a building may contain asbestos, it’s essential to seek advice before carrying out any work that may disturb the materials.
It’s also important to note that asbestos-related diseases can take decades to develop, and there is currently no cure for these illnesses. Therefore, taking all necessary precautions when working with or around asbestos-containing materials is crucial to prevent exposure and protect your health.
Asbestos can be found in various buildings and environments but is more commonly associated with particular occupations. Workers in construction, plumbing and electrical services, among others, are at higher risk due to the widespread use of the mineral in building and construction materials.
Builders, construction workers and carpenters are at exceptionally high risk as the mineral was widely used in insulation, roofing and flooring. Roofers, home renovators, painters, cleaners and other tradespeople who work on older buildings or homes may also be at increased risk.
In addition, firefighters and other emergency personnel may be exposed to asbestos fibres when responding to fires in older buildings or homes.
Protecting yourself and your employees from asbestos exposure is crucial. Here are some steps you can take.
- Identify asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in your building or workplace. It is essential to know where asbestos is present to avoid disturbing it. You can hire a licensed asbestos inspector to conduct a survey and provide a report identifying any ACMs in your facility or office.
- Create an asbestos management plan. It should outline the procedures for managing and controlling asbestos-containing materials and the responsibilities of employees and contractors who may come into contact with them.
- Use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as respirators, disposable coveralls, laceless boots, respirators and gloves.
- Follow safe work practices. It includes using wet methods to control dust and debris, minimising the use of power tools, and ensuring that all waste containing asbestos is adequately sealed and discarded.
- Hire licensed professionals for any work involving ACMs. They have the appropriate training and equipment to do the job safely.
For some families, however, it might just be too late. If a loved one has died due to asbestos exposure, coping with the emotional and financial toll of their loss can be devastating.
But there may still be hope for justice and compensation through asbestos claims after death. These claims can help cover the costs of funeral expenses, outstanding medical bills and other financial losses that may have resulted from your loved one’s illness. To learn more about your legal options and determine whether an asbestos claim after death is the right course of action, speak with a qualified solicitor specialising in these cases. You don’t have to fight this battle alone.