Asbestos: Why This Once Common Building Material Is Such A Hazard Now

Friday April 20, 2018 09:42

Asbestos is the name for a group of natural occurring minerals that are made up of many small fibrous crystals.

It has in the past been a common building material used in many homes and buildings built prior to 2000.

It is a material that was in favour in the building industry because it was a strong, inexpensive, sound absorbing material that is fire retardant and water resistant.

However, it is also very hazardous to your health especially when you breathe in the fibre particles over a long period of time.

If left undisturbed asbestos is not harmful, however the asbestos is often disturbed when you are undertaking renovations or repair work around the home or commercial premises – sometimes you may not even be aware that it is there.

As exposure can be harmful and cause cancer leading to death over time, the Government has introduced regulations to protect the health and safety of workers around their exposure to asbestos. Known as the Health and Safety at Work Asbestos (regulations) 2016, the regulations spell out how to manage asbestos.

In the workplace companies are required to identify and manage asbestos if it is present in your workplace. As a Person Conducting Business or Undertaking (PCBU) as defined under the current Health and Safety At Work Act, you must ensure that your workplace environment is free of airborne asbestos fibres. 

Construction companies, plumbers, electricians, builders all run the risk of being exposed to asbestos containing materials and therefore a PCBU should ensure that staff are aware or able to identify asbestos. If found, asbestos should be removed by licenced asbestos removers only.

Home owners should take steps to check whether or not their home contains asbestos and advise tradespeople working on the property of the possibility. If doing the job themselves they should look at having the asbestos removed professionally.

For further information check out https://worksafe.govt.nz/topic-and-industry/asbestos/working-with-asbestos/handy-hints/locations-of-asbestos-in-commercial-buildings/ you can also check out https://worksafe.govt.nz/topic-and-industry/asbestos/working-with-asbestos/handy-hints/locations-of-asbestos-in-a-residential-dwelling/

Talk to your Securo Health & Safety consultant if you suspect you may have asbestos at your workplace or if you are planning renovations to a building constructed prior to 2000.