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Asbestos In the Workplace: Protecting Employees and The Environment

Asbestos In the Workplace: Protecting Employees and The Environment

What is Asbestos? 

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral made up of microscopic fibers. It was widely used in construction as a binder when mixing and spreading plaster, spackling the joints where drywall boards meet, or wrapping joints on HVAC ductwork.  Some industries use it for the minerals heat resistance, durability, and insulating properties.

The Dangers of Asbestos

If asbestos becomes airborne, breathing or ingesting the fibers can be extremely harmful to human health. The microscopic fibers can lodge themselves into your lungs or digestive system, The body cannot break the fibers down so it coats the mineral with scar tissue. Over time, this condition can cause serious health issues.  

Homes built before 1978 could have been built with asbestos containing materials.  Thus, there could be a danger that friable asbestos conditions could exist.  Before conducting any demolition activities, it is prudent to have the building materials that will be disturbed tested for the presence of asbestos.  

Floor tile that is manufactured today may contain up to 2% asbestos.  On the shipping box, it will be labeled containing “2% Chrysotile” which is the most common form of asbestos.  A homeowner or business owner should be aware that asbestos containing materials are still made today and the materials should be handled with caution.  

Protecting Employees

To protect employees from asbestos exposure, businesses and organizations should be following these crucial steps: 

Identify Asbestos-Containing Materials 

All commercial buildings and Schools are required by USEPA to have an asbestos survey to identify the presence of friable asbestos containing materials. These materials are often found in older buildings in items like insulation, flooring, roofing, and even some paints. Our team at Farsight Management will complete an asbestos inspection for you, to determine the best solution to eliminate your workplace of asbestos.

Manage and Maintain Asbestos-Containing Materials

A maintenance program can be written so the maintenance personnel can identify and determine what can be done if materials need to be disturbed.  They must be managed and maintained in a way that prevents fiber release. This may involve encapsulation or proper sealing to keep the fibers contained. 

Even though a material is not identified as a regulated asbestos containing material, if the laboratory analysis identifies ANY asbestos fibers, and the material is friable if disturbed, then OSHA guidelines apply to any worker completing the disturbance.  Although homeowners can expose themselves whatever contaminants they wish, they cannot hire a person to do the work without complying with state and federal rules.  Thus, disturbing a friable material with asbestos is required to be completed by an asbestos abatement contractor.  

Prioritize Professional Removal 

If there are asbestos containing materials that would not become friable if disturbed (i.e. floor tile),  Farsight Management has the expertise and equipment to safely remove and dispose of asbestos found in your home or workplace. If removal of a friable material is necessary, then a state licensed abatement professional must be hired.  Farsight can monitor the health and safety conditions during the project, act as the owner’s representative, and complete a clearance test after the work is completed to determine the engineering controls can be removed.

Employee Training and Awareness

We recommend that your employees are educated about asbestos, its dangers, and the procedures in place to prevent exposure. Training can significantly reduce the risk of accidental asbestos disturbance.  All states require a license to collect samples for laboratory analysis, interpreting the results, and determining a course of action.

The following Regulations apply for Asbestos:

USEPA AHERA 40 CFR Part 763 Subpart E

USEPA NESHAPS 40 CFR Part 61 Subpart M

OSHA Asbestos Construction Standard 29 CFR 1926.1101

OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard 29 CFR 1910.134

OSHA Asbestos General Industry Standard 29 CFR 1910,1001

Protecting the Environment 

Aside from its impact on human health, asbestos also poses environmental risks. Improper handling and disposal of asbestos-containing materials can contaminate soil and water, affecting local ecosystems. 

Safe Disposal 

The are state and federal laws that define how asbestos waste must be packaged, transported, and disposed of in designated landfill sites that can handle hazardous materials. This prevents any environmental contamination.

Encourage Responsible Practices

Advocate for responsible handling and disposal of asbestos within your community and industry. Encourage others to follow safety regulations to protect both people and the environment. 

Asbestos is a hazard that demands our attention and care. By taking proactive steps to identify, manage, and properly dispose of asbestos-containing materials, we can ensure the safety of employees and the environment. Farsight Management is committed to helping their clients safely evaluation the presence of asbestos-containing materials and spreading awareness about indoor air quality issues. Stay informed, stay safe! 

To have your workplace or home professionally surveyed for asbestos, Contact Farsight Management Today!

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Our Commitment

At Farsight Management we understand that not all indoor air quality companies are created equal.

We feel that it is imperative to educate ourselves, our employees, and our customers. You can trust that we follow all the national standards in regards to indoor air quality. This includes mold remediation, lead abatement, asbestos removal, and everything that we do.