Top 5 Occupations for High Risk Asbestos Exposure

Before asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999, many people worked in environments where asbestos exposure was incredibly high.

It can take many years to find out that having breathed in the lethal asbestos fibres you are suffering from a disease related to them.

Here are the top 5 occupations that were infamous for asbestos exposure and have led to many deaths in recent years.

Asbestos Manufacturer

Anyone who worked in factories that produced asbestos goods was at risk. Companies such as J. W. Roberts in Armley, Leeds manufactured insulation mattresses containing the hazardous minerals which were used in ship and train building. They also made linings for boilers.  The factory closed in 1958 but it left behind a carcinogenic legacy not only for workers but also for many in the surrounding area.  Armley is considered to be the deadliest area in Great Britain.  Watch out for our blog post on the full history of asbestos manufacture in Armley later this month.

Shipbuilder

Another occupation those decades later killed many working in this trade.  Those involved in the construction, renovation and repair of ships worked in environments that exposed them to huge levels of asbestos.  Testament to this fact is that the areas in the UK where ships were built coincide with higher deaths caused by asbestos related diseases.

Train Builder

Because of its insulation properties asbestos was the material of choice for insulating pipes in trains and often as a fire inhibitor spray on the framework of them. Since the dangers of the lethal minerals were not known, train builders were not provided with health and safety equipment. Spraying without adequate respiratory equipment or suitable masks caused massive inhalation of asbestos fibres.

Construction worker

Whether a carpenter, electrician, plasterer or other tradesperson working in construction; most were exposed to asbestos in one way or another.  Artex was a trendy and cheap plaster finish and it contained asbestos, as did insulation boards, rainwater goods and corrugated roofing. Many homeowners, even today, don’t appreciate that their properties are likely to have some asbestos if built before 2000.

Heating Engineer

We include plumbers with heating engineers since pipes had to be laid and tanks lagged. A mixture of water and asbestos powder was used by them to insulate pipes and lag tanks.  During the mixing and application of the paste asbestos fibres became airborne. Many in this trade have paid with their lives.

Asbestos exposure

You might imagine that asbestos exposure is a thing of the past since the material is now banned.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  Anyone whose job it is to repair or replace products that are over 17 years old takes a risk if the product is disturbed or damaged.

Before attempting any job like this, take samples of the material first.  Asbestos testing kits are inexpensive and contain everything required to collect samples safely. Results come back within 24 to 48 hours. It just isn’t worth causing permanent damage to your health.

Are you concerned about Grenfell Tower Asbestos Dangers?

Earlier in the year it was confirmed by health officials that all the flats in Grenfell Tower contained a considerable amount of asbestos.  Do you live near to the site? Are you concerned about how Grenfell Tower asbestos may affect you?

Specifically all flats were constructed with airing cupboards that were panelled with asbestos board. Many, if not all, had artex ceilings. Artex was a highly popular finish at the time the block of flats was built (1974) and contains asbestos.  There seems to be little information available as to how many of the 120 flats had been refurbished to eliminate asbestos.

The tower block caught fire on the 14 June 2017 and was completely destroyed. It is more than likely that potentially lethal asbestos fibres could have settled on hundreds of properties in the area carried by smoke and ash in the air.

Asbestos dangers with airborne fibres are very real

PHE (Public Health England) acknowledge that the smoke could have dispersed what they refer to as “small amounts of asbestos fibres”. What we find somewhat astonishing is that they have compared the general danger of toxicity in smoke with that containing asbestos, as posing an “additional minimal health risk”!

It is true that long term exposure puts people in greater danger of developing asbestos related diseases. However, just one fibre adhering to your lungs is also potentially dangerous. If you are having difficulty breathing, consult your doctor.

Irrespective of the varying reports that have come out since the disaster, you have nothing to lose by testing your home for asbestos.  If any of your windows were open at the time you can self-test with our asbestos testing kit to put your mind at rest.

Test for asbestos before embarking on DIY

If your home was built before the year 2000 the possibility of it containing asbestos is high. A testing kit for asbestos can be despatched within 24 hours. It contains everything you need to safely collect samples.  You then send the samples back to our laboratory and will receive the test results within 24/48 hours of receipt.

Asbestos in the home is safe until it is disturbed or damaged.  Simply drilling a hole in a wall, removing lagging from a water tank or replacing insulation boards can release the lethal fibres into the air.  It really isn’t worth taking the risk with your health and that of your family.

Raise your asbestos awareness

If you believe your home may have been affected by the Grenfell Tower fall out contact us. For more information about asbestos testing kits, asbestos removal or asbestos dangers call our friendly team who will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

 

 

Builders warned about Asbestos Insulation Boards removal by HSE

Building contractors who are not licensed to remove AIB (asbestos insulation boards) can expect to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

The HSE (Health & Safety Executive) will not tolerate asbestos being removed unsafely.  This was highlighted in the recent case of a Wigan building contractor heard in Manchester Magistrates Court.

Breach of Asbestos Removal Regulations

Convicted of breaching Health & Safety regulations, related to removing insulation boards containing asbestos, Anthony McGrath from Winstanley Construction, Wigan was ordered to pay fines totalling £475.  In addition, a compensation order of £7,500 was awarded to the homeowners who had employed him.

McGrath entered a guilty plea for breaching the following regulations:

  • Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012
  • Regulation 8 (1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012

The regulations related to removal of asbestos are strict. Only those who are licensed and fully trained, with the correct equipment, are permitted to carry out this work.  Not surprising, considering that exposure to asbestos fibres is extremely hazardous to health.

Mesothelioma cancer is just one of many asbestos related diseases that people may suffer from following exposure.  Unfortunately for these homeowners, Winstanley Construction didn’t engage the services of suitably qualified and licensed personnel for asbestos removal from their house.

Contractor stated asbestos insulation boards were safe

McGrath was reported by the homeowners during the course of their garage being converted at Bassett Grove, Wigan. Having removed the dangerous insulation boards, the contractor dumped the broken up pieces in the garden.  When asked what the debris was, McGrath said the boards contained asbestos intimated there was nothing to worry about.  He added that they would be taken off site shortly.

Naturally concerned, the homeowner discussed the matter with the local council. She then contacted a licensed asbestos removal specialist who verified that the boards were indeed AIB and should not have been removed outside of a controlled environment.

Huge decontamination cost

As a result of the unsafe removal, the homeowners had to vacate the property for over a week.  The cost of cleaning the contaminated areas of the home amounted to more than £12,000.

After the case, Inspector David Norton from the Health and Safety Executive

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector David Norton said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.”

He warned that businesses and individuals who didn’t comply with regulations would be prosecuted without hesitation.

Asbestos Sampling

Suspect there are asbestos insulation boards in your home? You can purchase and affordable asbestos testing kit from Asbestos Sampling.  If the samples you take are positively tested by our laboratory you must ensure that you use a fully licensed contractor to remove and dispose of them.  If you would like help finding a local contractor, contact us and we will consult our database. Be aware DIY is not an option for this type of job.

Where to Find Asbestos in the Home

Asbestos was widely used in home construction from 1930 to around 2000, particularly from 1960 onward. You may be wondering where to find asbestos in the home. Houses/flats built around this time may contain asbestos materials. Properties built since the mid 80’s are unlikely to have asbestos in the fabric of the building and from 1990 extremely unlikely.

Asbestos was outlawed in the UK in 1999

Below are some common places where asbestos can be found in the home. If in doubt get it tested!

Inside

A – Asbestos cement water tank
B – Pipe Lagging
C – Loose fill insulation
D – *Textured decorative coating (Artex)
E – *AIB ceiling tiles
F – AIB bath panels
G – Toilet seat andcistern
H – AIB Fuse box
I – AIB airing cupboard and/or sprayed insulation coating boiler
J – AIB partition wall
K – AIB interior window panel
L – AIB around boiler
M – Vinyl floor tiles
N – AIB behind fire

Outside

O – Gutters and asbestos downpipes
P – Soffits – AIB or asbestos cement
Q – AIB exterior window panel
R – Asbestos cement roof
S – Asbestos cement panels T-Roofing felt

* AIB = Asbestos Insulation Board

It’s not easy to distinguish asbestos insulation board from other types of board used in construction.  If you have partition walls, ceiling tiles, soffits or any other area with boarding it really makes sense to buy an asbestos testing kit. It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry! And remember the golden rule – test it before you touch it. It might delay your project by a few days but what price would you put on preserving your health?

*Artex

Artex was a very popular textured coating during the 70s and 80s. Do you remember all those swirly patterns and the popcorn effect?  Homeowners loved the fashionable, decorative look and it was both durable and inexpensive.

Its sound proofing and heat resistant properties also led to the material being widely used in both residential and commercial buildings en masse. These excellent qualities were not least due to the fact that Artex and similar textured coatings contained asbestos.

Disturbing the asbestos in Artex

If you have Artex on your walls or ceilings it isn’t the end of the world if it is in excellent condition, unless you disturb the asbestos in it.  Demolishing walls, drilling a hole in a wall or ceiling, removing ceiling or wall boards and re-plastering are just some of the ways lethal fibres can escape into the air. Like insulation boards, there is no way of knowing whether the textured coatings in your property contain asbestos without testing.

An asbestos testing kit will alleviate any concerns you may have.

Where to find asbestos in the home and how to test it

If you would like more information about where to find asbestos in the home or the testing of it, check out our video below.

Alternatively contact us and we will be happy to discuss your specific problem and advise you accordingly.

 

Asbestos Awareness – Dispelling the Myths

Asbestos awareness is growing and most people know something of the dangers associated with exposure to it. However, there are still a lot of myths that need to be dispelled if we are to fully understand the potential health hazards.

1.On identifying asbestos in your home or workplace it must be removed immediately

If there is no damage to the product, there is no immediate health hazard.  Do not rip up suspect floor tiles, chip back plaster or anything else since you will release fibres into the air.

The first thing to do is get an asbestos testing kit or hire a qualified asbestos surveyor to assess the risk.  Samples taken from suspected asbestos products can be tested very quickly.  Once the test results come back you can seek advice from Asbestos Sampling or your surveyor as to what to do.

2.There is no asbestos in new buildings

A recent survey, conducted by the Health & Safety Executive, revealed that just 15 percent of participants knew that builders were still using asbestos in the construction of residential and commercial properties right up until 2000. Hence if your property was built before 2000 there is a fair chance it will contain some asbestos.

3.Drinking water after working with asbestos will prevent asbestosis

The myth that having a drink after breathing in asbestos fibres will prevent asbestosis was shared by 14 percent of those questioned by the 2014 HSE survey.  27 percent believed that as long as a window was open and asbestos dust could escape, they’d be fine!  Neither is true!

To read the full report on the survey click on HSE Beware Asbestos Campaign

4.Masks prevent the inhalation of asbestos fibres

The normal masks you can purchase in a DIY store will not prevent you breathing in the fibres.  There are strict health and safety guidelines applicable to working with asbestos.

You need to be wearing protective clothing and a specialist face mask with filtration to be protected.  An asbestos testing kit contains everything you need to take samples safely.

5.You can catch Mesothelioma

Many people believe that Mesothelioma is contagious – it isn’t.  The only way you might contract the disease from another person is if someone has been working with asbestos and the lethal fibres are clinging to their clothes.  In this way you might breathe them in.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the lungs and is caused by exposure to asbestos.  It’s a really sneaky cancer because often sufferers are not aware of the symptoms until it is too late.  Worse, it can take many years to manifest. It’s therefore important to tell your GP if you have been exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos awareness can save lives

Currently in the UK, 20 people per week die from diseases that are directly related to asbestos.   As more people learn about the risks and asbestos awareness grows, we hope fatalities will reduce.

If you suspect there is any asbestos in your home invest in a testing kit from Asbestos Sampling. The kit is not expensive, starting at under £30, and is the first step to making your residential or working environment safe. For more information about the kits or a specific project call us on 0800 368 8849 or chat to us live on our website.

Asbestos Testing for Floor Tiles

If floor tiles are more than 30 years old it’s likely you’ll want to replace them. However, asbestos testing is essential before you rip them up.

Tiles of this age often contain white asbestos (chrysolite) set in polymer.  They are not particularly high risk unless damaged, resulting in the release of the asbestos fibres. Business and homeowners often wonder whether to replace the floor tiles or just leave them where they are.  Here is some information that might help you decide.

Damaged asbestos floor tiles

Over a 30 year period you can imagine that high traffic and regular cleaning is likely to wear the tiles. More damage can occur when furniture is moved around or when rooms have been renovated without covering the tiles properly.  Exposure to sunlight is also a factor to consider because it makes them vitreous. Long term exposure can cause asbestos floor tiles to weaken and crumble underfoot. All of this damaging activity can cause fibres to become airborne.

Before you think about doing anything with this potentially harmful floor covering, invest in an inexpensive, asbestos self-testing kit.  The results of tests from the samples you take will define what happens next.

An asbestos self testing kit can be with you within 24 hours of ordering and samples tested rapidly. There is no hold up waiting for an available surveyor, which could create unnecessary delays in your project.

Asbestos testing results

Samples tested will reveal whether there is a high, medium, low or negative asbestos risk.  For example, if the test comes back as low risk you might want to get an expert in to repair any damage. The same applies to medium risk. With both low and medium results you could consider laying new flooring over the existing tiles. However, with a high risk result it’s always worth calling licensed professionals to remove and dispose of the material.

Other hazards of asbestos flooring

If you love the retro look and want to keep low risk flooring when it has been repaired bear in mind the following:

Old asbestos tiling was often laid in bathrooms and kitchens, both being areas where floors can become wet. Renowned for not being anti-slip some people remember slipping on them and landing with a heavy thud.

Whilst the retro look may be in vogue, you’re best advised to buy new flooring with a retro design.  This is particularly pertinent if an accident happens in the workplace. Can your business afford a hefty compensation claim? This type of floor is not good for children or the elderly who are more prone to accidents.

If you would like to know more about asbestos testing please don’t hesitate to contact Asbestos Sampling. Our friendly team provides 24/7 support so you can call us any time on Freephone 0800 368 88 49. Be safe rather than sorry!