Inadvertent Exposure to Asbestos

How to identify and manage the risk of asbestos in premises and the health problems it presents

How to identify and manage the risk of asbestos in premises and the health problems it presents

Inadvertent Exposure to Asbestos

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 places specific obligations on the Duty Holders to manage all known and presumed asbestos containing materials. The requirement and obligations therein require documented processes for dealing with incidents, accidents and emergencies, more specifically for the inadvertent exposure to uncontrolled asbestos fibre. Although these occurrences are quite rare and usually tend to be of a fairly low concentration and of a short duration it’s important to remember the emotive nature of the material and how an individual’s perception of risk would need to be addressed in a meaningful and concise way. The discovery of poor condition or damaged asbestos containing materials.   If asbestos or suspected asbestos is discovered which is damaged or likely to be damaged during the course of work the identifier must stop activities and immediately report the matter to the responsible person, who may or may not be the duty holder.

Evacuation of Room, Location or Area

The room where the incident occurred must be evacuated if;

  • Any friable (easily crumbled) asbestos material is damaged;
  • Any insulating board or asbestos cement product is damaged to the extent that visible debris is present;
  • There is any doubt about the nature of dust or debris within the area;

Where these circumstances exist all windows and doors must be closed and any ventilation equipment or gas appliances turned off.  The area should be sealed off and locked to prevent unauthorised access.

If contamination is thought to have migrated into other or adjacent areas then these should also be evacuated and sealed.

  • Signs warning of the hazard must be posted and entry prohibited to all except authorised staff who are wearing suitable personal protective equipment.

Contaminated Clothing.

Anyone who may have been exposed to asbestos dust, debris of airborne fibre must not be allowed to take home, or travel in clothing that might be contaminated. Clothing that is (or could possibly be) contaminated by asbestos must be removed and placed in a polythene bag which would then be sealed. Disposal would need to be undertaken by a licensed asbestos contractor or in rare instances sent to a laundry which is equipped to handle asbestos contaminated clothing.

Any person who may have been exposed to asbestos should be referred to their GP or a chest clinic for further advice.

Further Information.

Health and Safety Executive Direct –  0300 003 1747