The mining of asbestos in the US has been completely banned. This is in lieu of the 1989 Toxic Substances
Control Act. According to this law, no one is allowed to exploit asbestos for any private or commercial purposes.
In any case that the use of asbestos is necessary, it should not exceed the limit provided by the government. The
EPA (Environmental Protection Association) is the agency authorized by the US government to regulate and oversee
companies and other entities that are working with asbestos. Mismanagement or any violations of the Act 1989 may
actually lead to legal charges.
Nonetheless, the said act has not totally banned the use of products containing asbestos. In the America, there
are still thousands of homes, buildings, and infrastructures that were built using construction materials
containing asbestos. Of course, the government cannot just order a mass demolition of these properties.
But in constructing new buildings, both the federal and state authorities are strict in inspecting materials
used. Moreover, consumers can always seek professional help in removing asbestos from their homes.
Who are the people working with asbestos?
Asbestos is an essential mineral that is mainly used in building constructions. Since it makes a material
defiant to heat, it is widely used in making insulations, pipes, cements, flooring tiles, ceilings, walls, and many
more. It is even used in making suits used by firemen. Though the use of asbestos is strictly prohibited, there are
still industries that are in need of this mineral. Also, there are companies that offer services in removing
asbestos from residential and commercial buildings. They are also called Asbestos Abatement
Working with Asbestos – General Guidelines in the
The Control of Asbestos Regulations provides the guidelines that different companies and private
individuals should follow when working with asbestos. It is a comprehensive compilation of the previous policies
that were made in regulating the exploitation of asbestos minerals. The Control of Asbestos Regulations came into
existence on November 13, 2006 and is enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
What does this regulation say?
Prohibition on the importation, supply, and utilizations of
First, the Regulations provides for the prohibition of the supply,
importation, and utilization of all forms of asbestos. There are four general types of asbestos (brown, white,
black, and blue). In year 1985, the use of blue and brown asbestos was completely banned and in 1999, white
asbestos was also blacklisted.
The Regulations also require all companies and individuals who are working
with asbestos to apply for licensing. They include the asbestos removal contractors, laboratory/testing centers,
and all other factories that necessitate asbestos in producing products. Unless they have passed the qualifications
and obtained a valid license, they will not be able to work with asbestos.
Employment of safety measures in the workplace
In the workplace, business owners should see to it that their employees do not
get exposed to the chemical. This includes not disturbing the materials that contain asbestos and using appropriate
gears and tools including the respiratory equipment, facemask either half or full. They also need to provide their
employees with the appropriate suits (closed shoes, jumpsuits, hats, etc.) and any protective covering that will
protect them from incidental exposure to asbestos.
Prohibition in Disturbing or Distorting Asbestos-containing
Workers are not allowed to drill, break, sand, or distort materials or
products that contain asbestos. Neither should they shovel it while dry. Asbestos fibers can be released through
the dust and can be inhaled by the worker. When dealing with big cleanups, workers should not use regular vacuum
cleaners. Instead, they have to use High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA).
Control Limit of Asbestos Exposure
However, there are times that disturbing the material is necessary to complete
the job. In this case, the worker may do so provided that his/her exposure to asbestos does not exceed the control
limit, which is 0.1 fibers per cubic meter in an interval of 30 minutes. This is the average airborne exposure
limit and it will not affect the worker’s health. Exceeding this control limit may lead to the cancellation of the
employer’s license to operate.
Securing the Workplace
The workplace should be so constructed in a way that the asbestos fiber would
be contained in case of exposure. The doors and windows should be closed and the working area should be properly
maintained and sanitized. When working with asbestos, it is necessary that the cooling system or heaters be turned
off so the fibers that are released in the air will not spread throughout the area.
Disposal of asbestos wastes should also be done properly. The materials that
contain asbestos should be taken from the working area immediately. However, the workers must place such asbestos
wastes inside a sealed plastic bag or wet container. Then, it should be labeled as hazardous or asbestos
Employers should make sure that their workers undergo necessary trainings
before working with asbestos. The training should be properly designed to prepare the workers in their individual
tasks. Contractors who work as electricians, plumbers, plasterers, roofers, gas and shop fitters, heating
engineers, insulation installers, maintenance contractors, and of course the construction workers are required to
undergo asbestos training. There are so many other professions that require the same trainings. So long as they can
be exposed to asbestos, they need to learn the right ways on dealing with the chemical as well as the safety
What are included in the training? Everything about asbestos – from the basic information down to its
disposal is taught during the entire training program. Workers will be educated on the terrible effects that they
may get from working with asbestos, the types of asbestos, and how to identify them. The trainees will also be
taught on how what to do in case an accidental exposure takes place. Most importantly, they will be informed of the
laws that guarantee their rights in case they develop a fatal disease from their profession.
Training courses are offered by various companies. The competence and experience of
trainers are highly essential to ensure that workers will easily learn all about asbestos and how to deal with
it. HSE is continuously coordinating with asbestos training providers and they help contractors, employers, and
independent service providers look for training institutions. Aside from the actual training programs, the
agency also encourages workers to avail of e-learning or web-based asbestos training. For those who don’t have
the time to attend regular training sessions, they can just go online anytime and learn more about working with
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