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What to do if the concentration of asbestos in your air exceeds the occupational exposure limit

by , 22 January 2014
The established exposure limit for South African workplaces is 0.2 regulated asbestos fibres per millilitre (fibre/mL) averaged over any continuous period of four hours. If you conduct tests and find the airborne concentration of asbestos is above this level, you must do the following...

If your company uses asbestos, you must protect your employees properly.

How do you do this?

You're required to measure asbestos exposure limits in your workplace.

The Health & Safety Advisor says an approved asbestos inspector must do this. And he must check for exposure at least every 12 months.

If the airborne concentration of asbestos exceeds the occupational exposure limit, do the following:

#1: Monitor and analyse relevant environmental and laboratory tests for functioning of the respiratory system, for example, air sampling equipment.

#2: Provide appropriate personal protective equipment, for example, respirators and clothing.

#3: Provide pre-placement medical evaluations to detect and assess pre-existing lung conditions.

#4: Provide periodic medical screening. This must include standardised questionnaires, lung function tests and chest x-rays.

If you're employee's results are normal, they're fit for duty. But, if their results are abnormal, you must follow these seven steps:

Step #1: Repeat the examinations.
Step #2: Complete the respiratory questionnaire
Step #3: Have your employee see anOccupational Health and Safety Medical Practitioner (OHMP) for an evaluation.
Step #4: Send him to a specialist, if necessary.
Step #5: Contact his supervisor.
Step #6: Get the occupational exposure level values for asbestos from your Occupational Hygiene survey.
Step #7: Report the result to the Compensation Commissioner (COID).

#5: Provide relevant tests when an employee leaves your workplace.

Now that you know what to do when airborne concentration of asbestos exceed the occupational exposure limit, make sure you comply.

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