Decades ago, most employers knew about the dangers of exposure to asbestos. However, their employees were rarely warned of these dangers or given the appropriate gear to protect themselves. Today there are strict regulations put in place by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Anyone who handles asbestos needs to closely follow the safety protocols put in place by these agencies to protect themselves from asbestos related diseases.
The EPA and OSHA require all workplaces that handle asbestos products to have an asbestos management program in place. Such programs identify all materials that could contain asbestos
, as well as handle hazard and exposure control. Additionally, they conduct risk assessments and educate employees on the proper procedures for handling asbestos.
The Employer's Responsibilities
Employers in businesses that handle asbestos related materials have the serious responsibility of providing a number of things to their employees. These include:
- Written health & safety policy
- Written emergency response procedures
- Training in asbestos handling
- Regular inspections to ensure procedures are being followed
- Regular contamination inspections
- Safety equipment (masks, respirators, gloves, aprons) for safe asbestos handling
- Regular inspections of safety equipment
- Decontamination facilities to ensure no residual asbestos leaves the facility
- Notification of all risk associated with asbestos handling
- Accident investigations should contamination occur
- A health & safety representative to address any concerns
- Protective clothing to be worn only when handling asbestos related materials (clothing should cover the entire body and fit snugly)
Though the procedures for the safe handling of asbestos are fairly similar throughout the country, they can vary slightly depending on the job in question. Employees should be sure they completely understand the risks involved in any job before they accept it. It's also important to remember that when asbestos is handled properly, the risk to employees is very minimal. If an employer does not want to provide any of the above mentioned items to employees, there's a good chance that he or she is not operating in accordance with asbestos handling laws and regulations.
Asbestos in the Home
If anyone suspects asbestos exposure in their home, it is not recommended that they try to handle it themselves. Licensed asbestos abatement contractors have the training needed to safely correct the issue without harm to anyone living in the home.