Till quite recently asbestos had been one ideal material for building purposes. Being inexpensive and easy to use and having fire retardant and electrical resistance properties this was a much sought after building material. The discovery that the airborne asbestos fibers upon inhaling cannot be expelled by the lungs has led to it being classified as a health problem creator. These sharp fibers have also been known to have a penetrating effect on the tissues. These together with the findings of health problems attributed to asbestos like asbestosis, mesothelioma and cancer has led to the emergence of the need for suitable legal measures in this regard to be advocated.
Asbestos fibers or dust needs to be kept away from the workplaces and homes. Though there are regulations for controlling asbestos related diseases and asbestos fiber spread such legal provisions would be effective enough only if robust enforcement reinforces it. Such enforcement would require backing by banning of the import and use of asbestos products that remain that are permissible for serving as construction material. It might be needed to provide additional legislation in the regard and would require focusing of the minds of construction companies and their suppliers. With substitutes of asbestos being readily available the existing laws may be suitably enforced to ban asbestos usage altogether. Alongside, special care ought to be taken for the effective management of asbestos removal, refurbishment, maintenance and demolition work.
Determination whether the building you are residing in contains asbestos is important. It is equally important to assess the building’s risk of releasing fibers. And a plan to manage the risk associated is to be prepared.
Starting up with managing asbestos problems involves the following:
o A desktop study is to be conducted to find out and take down together what all is already known about your building. Documents such as plans and papers are to be verified.
o Thereafter an inspection of the building is to be preferably done to ascertain that building materials contain asbestos. The results of inspection are to be recorded for identifying the parts where asbestos may lie.
o Then an assessment is to be made about the risk of asbestos fibers being released into the air from the problem areas. The condition of the problematic materials and their probability of being damaged or disturbed to aggravate the risk are to be adjudged too.
o As per legal duty and responsibility a management plan is to be drawn. The areas that may need asbestos sealing or encapsulation or if not anything else- removal are to be declared.
An important objective of the plan thus to be set is to provide a warning to the people coming for work at the building so that they prevent themselves from getting exposed to accidental asbestos dust exposure. Frequent checks conducted on a regular basis is important for making sure that material condition has not worsened. The plan for managing the asbestos risk need be kept up to date.
What legal duty concerns is managing asbestos and not doing away with (removing) it. The asbestos that remains in good condition and is not likely to be disturbed need not be removed. And such removal may actually lead to bearing of an expense quite unnecessarily.