Asbestos in your building? OSHA has a thing or two to say about it. You may have heard that asbestos is highly dangerous and that it’s surprisingly common, especially in older buildings. It’s critical to work with experts who can come in and clean up the mess without putting your team at risk. We at Bergman Brothers have invested our time and expertise in building a database of nationwide, accredited Asbestos pros who you can leverage to get your building back to normal. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Asbestos and Why Should I Be Concerned?
Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals that are resistant to heat and corrosion. Asbestos has historically been used in the production of certain consumer products, such as insulation for pipes, floor tiles, building materials, and in vehicle brakes and clutches. Asbestos includes the mineral fibers chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite, actinolite and any of these materials that have been chemically treated or altered. Heavy exposure to these mineral fibers tend to occur in the construction industry and in ship repair, particularly during the removal of asbestos materials due to renovation, repairs, or demolition.
That means that if you are working or living in an older building, the chances of there being asbestos in the building materials is pretty high. But the risk comes when the removal or demolition of those materials is needed. That’s when you need to call in the experts.
Understanding the Hazards of Asbestos
Asbestos is well established as a health hazard in the modern era, and its use is now highly regulated by both OSHA and the EPA. Asbestos fibers associated with these health risks are too small to be seen with the naked eye. But breathing asbestos fibers can cause the buildup of scar-like tissue in the lungs called asbestosis. That buildup can then result in the loss of lung function, which often progresses to disability and even death. Asbestos also causes cancer of the lung and other diseases such as mesothelioma of the pleura. Epidemiologic evidence has increasingly shown that all asbestos fiber types, including the most commonly used form of asbestos, chrysotile, causes mesothelioma in humans. The bottom line is that breathing these invisible fibers for a prolonged period of time can mean bad news for your workers. The path forward is in evaluating the risk effectively and partnering with certified asbestos removal experts if and when needed.
Reducing Risk Associated with Asbestos Exposure
Controlling the exposure to asbestos can be done through thoughtful and strategic engineering controls, administrative actions, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Engineering controls include such things as isolating the source and using ventilation systems. Administrative actions include limiting the worker’s exposure time and providing showers. Relevant PPE may include wearing the proper respiratory protection and clothing. The following resources contain information to help control asbestos exposures.
For an expert opinion on what you should do to reduce risk and minimize the impact of Asbestos in your building, connect with the team at Bergman Brothers today! Our network of national Asbestos removal and remediation experts can help you get your people back to work safely.