Global Asbestos Awareness Week Promotes Health and Safety Procedures for Asbestos

Global Asbestos Awareness Week occurs annually the first week of April. This event promotes health and safety procedures around asbestos, a carcinogen that affects thousands of people every year. Participating in this awareness week means spreading information about how asbestos affects people today and why it is still an issue.

Home renovators, building owners, general contractors, and facility managers operate in similar workplaces and conditions. Often, labor-intensive industries come with their own dangers, and one toxin that has affected these workers is asbestos. This fiber was used throughout the 20th century, but manufacturing was reduced in the 1970s after exposure was connected to cancer.

Asbestos-containing materials are non-threatening if contained and undisturbed. Despite this, manufacturers and construction companies may require the drilling, breaking or cutting of asbestos products, which would cause the friable fibers to pollute the air. Workers in close proximity with the fibers can inhale asbestos.

Although this carcinogen is limited, products that have been known to contain asbestos include:

  • Roofing
  • Pipe coverings
  • Insulation
  • Floor tiles
  • Cement
  • Adhesives
  • Gaskets
  • Plaster
  • Filler
  • Cables and wire

The products listed above are only a small selection of the types of asbestos-containing materials used in buildings and construction. Occupational diseases are a serious risk to workers in these types of environments, and mesothelioma is one of the most critical diseases associated with asbestos. Workers who are diagnosed with mesothelioma develop fluid buildup, loss of appetite, chest pain, abdominal pain, coughing and difficulty breathing.

Part of Global Asbestos Awareness Week’s initiative is to convey the health impacts that arise after exposure to asbestos. Protecting the workplace is the beginning to setting and maintaining a health and safety standard. Due to the ability for the tiny fibers to stick to clothing or hair and easily become airborne, handling asbestos is not advised for those who haven’t been certified in the proper safety training. If there is a need to remove asbestos from an area, abatement professionals are trained to effectively mitigate the material without creating a hazard for others.

OSHA is predominantly responsible for workplace regulations. This organization was among the first to implement laws to protect employees from asbestos exposure. Because the U.S. has not fully banned asbestos, OSHA has fundamentally set these standards in the occupational environment. Two guidelines OSHA requires employers to follow include workplaces providing fully functioning respirators and managing the areas where asbestos is present.

Cases of mesothelioma in the workplace have been reported throughout the years as notorious examples of occupational cancer. Due to the serious medical symptoms and prognosis of mesothelioma, settlements are vital to cover the cost of treatment. The regulations established by federal and state legislation also aim to reduce the number of exposures and points to why exposure is taken seriously. 

A mesothelioma settlement process can provide family and friends peace-of-mind or closure. If there is any negligence by an employer, this helps employees from dealing with this disease alone. However, this is a last resort and the first step is education and prevention. Better control and more knowledge about asbestos in the workplace can immediately stop unnecessary exposure. Global Asbestos Awareness Week is the leading approach in recognizing the hazards of asbestos, especially in the workplace where the risks continue to exist.

About the Author

Meredith Morton
Meredith Morton writes about architecture and design from her home office in Chicago.

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