Medical Education

Occupational Safety Tips For Asbestos

Asbestos is commonly found in many building materials, which, when disturbed, puts you at risk of developing lung and other cancers unless you take the proper precautions to avoid it affecting your health.

In fact, experts recommend the following tips to help keep you safe from asbestos while on the job:

Educate Yourself About Asbestos in the Workplace

Understanding which products and areas at the worksite may contain asbestos can help you take the proper steps to avoid inhaling it. So take time to educate yourself accordingly to help maintain your health.

However, if your job exposes you to high levels of asbestos, your employer is required to ensure you are educated about the location, the amount, and the release of the harmful material, and more through employee training in risk awareness for your workplace.

Avoid Breathing in Asbestos Fibers

The main way to avoid asbestos-related illnesses is to prevent breathing it in in the first place, which, all too often, usually occurs unknowingly when carrying out your job assignment, unaware that it is present.

Therefore, when working at job sites in New York with asbestos exposure, you need to wear a safety mask or other breathing apparatus or respirator, such as a HEPA mask with a filter, to help protect against the inhalation of toxic substances, dust, and more.

According to the CDC, OSHA, the EPA, and more, your safety should also be NIOSH-approved for maximum protection.

Follow the Proper Safety Procedures on the Job Site

Outside of wearing a protective mask to help prevent asbestos from entering your respiratory organs as you inhale, you need to also ensure you are practicing safe work habits to avoid disturbing asbestos and making it airborne where it can easily be breathed in by:

  • Avoid the dry clean-up of residual particles containing asbestos. Instead, it is best to first wet the debris to help weigh it down. This way, it doesn’t fly in as you sweep or shovel it up.
  • It is also important to wet asbestos-containing materials prior to and while performing any form of separating them, which also helps prevent the silicate fibers from becoming airborne.
  • You should also avoid eating, smoking, and drinking in areas where asbestos may be present.
  • If you are working at a site where asbestos may be present, avoid handling the materials until they have been properly examined and safety measures have been put into place to help maintain your safety.

Avoid Bringing Asbestos Fibers Outside the Workplace

When working with asbestos, the fibers can get trapped in your hair, nails, and skin, where they can remain long after you’ve left the worksite, which also puts others outside the work site at risk of inhaling it.

Therefore, be sure to thoroughly clean any asbestos-exposed skin with soap and water before leaving your job to help keep yourself as well as others in the general public safe.

In fact, OSHA requires companies that work directly with asbestos to have a cleanup facility on site to help prevent employees from transporting the fibrous silicate minerals outside.

You should also, first, rinse and then wash off your work clothes before bringing them home, if possible.

Otherwise, place the contaminated clothes in a bag and then put on non-contaminated clothes to prevent transporting asbestos beyond your worksite.

When you do wash your contaminated clothes, it is important to rinse them before washing them with detergent and water because it helps prevent the asbestos from being released into the atmosphere.

Adhere to the Proper Standards for Safe Demolition

If your job is in building demolitions, it is also strongly recommended that you perform the work under the supervision and guidance of a certified asbestos abatement supervisor from the Asbestos National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants to ensure it is done according to strict regulations for maximum safety.

With the proper guidance by occupational safety and health authorities, it is possible to maintain a healthy work environment even when working with asbestos. In the meantime, also be sure to educate yourself and receive employee training in asbestos to ensure you fully understand the precautions to take on your own to help maintain a safe environment outside the workplace.

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