A variety of asbestos containing materiials have been used in the construction of commercial and domestic properties over the years because of its fire and insulation properties. As a result asbestos containing materials are still found in properties constructed prior to 2000.
If the material is not damaged it won't present a risk, however, when materials are disturbed they can release asbestos fibres which can give rise to a number of serious illnesses including lung diseases and cancers.
The dangers from asbestos are not always apparent, with individuals who have been exposed sometimes not developing symptoms of asbestos illnesses until between 15-60 years from the time of exposure to asbestos fibres.
Although there is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos, research shows that those who are regularly exposed to asbestos during their work are at greatest risk from developing asbestos related diseases. Occupations which are likely to come across asbestos containing materials include:
This list is not exhaustive, anyone who works in buildings and disturbs asbestos is at potential risk.
Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work related deaths in the UK with exposure to asbestos currently in around 4,500 deaths a year. Because of the transient nature of construction workers in Jersey and the time between exposure and development of symptons, it is not possible to gain a true picture of individuals who have developed asbestos as a result of being exposed to asbestos in the Island, indivdiual cases of persons who have developed asbetos related diseases are widely known about in the industry.
Before you start the job, find out if asbestos is present and think about how you ca carry out the work to avoid disturbing these materials. If you are working a in a commercial property, ask to see the asbestos management plan for the building. If you are working in a residentail property, ask whether an asbestos survey has been carried out for the works and if you think that any materials you may disturb may be asbestos, don't start work until you have one.
If you are suspicious something may be asbestos stop and ask. don't assume that the material is not asbestos because you haven't been told.
Make sure that anyone who is likely to come across asbestos containing materials has received asbestos awareness training.
The risks from disturbance of some asbestos containing materials is such that they can only legally be worked with by contractors who are licenced by the Minister for Social Security or whose UK licence has been approved by a Health and Safety Inspector. Such workis normally referred to as licensed work. Only use licensed contractors for working with those materials.
Ensure that only trained operatives work with unlicensed materials, such as asbestos cement products. This type of work requires to be carefully considered and planned with the appropriate protective equpment provided and kept in good condition.
Arrange for the safe disposal of any asbestos waste
Check that your insurance covers you for working with asbestos.
The Health and Safety at Work (Jersey) Law, 1989, the Asbestos-Licensing (Jersey) Regulations, 2008 and the Approved Code of Practice for the Management of Exposure to Asbestos set out legal requirements which cover work with all types of asbestos containing materials. They place duties on all those involved with working activities.
Further information of these requirements can be found on the Health and Safety Inspectorate section of the States of Jersey website www.gov.je/hsi