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Revealed: Work environments where asbestos exposure can occur

by , 21 January 2014
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) indicates a number of key industries that can be affected by asbestos exposure. Read on to find out if you're one of them and what you can do to protect your employees.

According to the Health & Safety Advisor, everyday we're exposed to low levels of asbestos in the air.

But concentrated levels of exposure is dangerous! And it can occur in certain work environments, for example, in any work process likely to expose an employee to asbestos dust. These higher concentrations of asbestos are known to cause health effects in humans.

The following industries could be exposing their employees to exposure

  • Asbestos product manufacturing (insulation, roofing, building materials);
  • Automotive repair (brakes and clutches);
  • Construction sites;
  • Maritime operations;
  • Mining operations;
  • Offshore rust removals;
  • Oil refineries;
  • Power plants;
  • Railroads;
  • Sand or abrasive manufacturers;
  • Shipyards, shipbuilders; and steel mills.

In addition, workers in these occupations are more likely to be exposed to asbestos

  • Asbestos removal workers;
  • Demolition workers;
  • Workers at asbestos product manufacturing plants;
  • Auto mechanics;
  • Boilermakers;
  • Bricklayers;
  • Building inspectors;
  • Carpenters;
  • Dry wallers;
  • Electricians;
  • Floor covering manufacturers or installers;
  • Furnace workers;
  • Glaziers;
  • Grinders;
  • Insulators;
  • Iron workers;
  • Labourers;
  • Longshoremen;
  • Maintenance workers;
  • Merchant marines;
  • Millwrights;
  • Operating engineers;
  • Painters;
  • Plasterers;
  • Plumbers; and
  • Roofers.

What can you do to protect your employees from asbestos exposure?

If you tick any of the above mentioned boxes, implement an Occupational Hygiene Survey to determine if your employees are exposed to an airborne asbestos concentration exceeding the occupational exposure limit (OEL).

'The established exposure limit for South Africa workplaces is 0.2 regulated asbestos fibre/mL averaged over any continuous period of four hours,' says the Health & Safety Advisor.

An approved asbestos inspector will help you with this.

Now that you know the type of work environments and occupations where asbestos exposure is likely to occur, make sure you protect your employees.

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