Reducing the number of accidental asbestos exposures at site
Knowing the exact location of the asbestos is critical in reducing the likelihood of accidental exposure. Unfortunately, in many instances this doesn’t always happen. Each year there are thousands of often unreported accidental disturbances of asbestos containing materials by contractors carrying out minor works not under control of ACAR.
There are over 6 million tonnes of asbestos still in situ in over 1.5 million UK buildings. Many vital UK public buildings contain high levels of asbestos. Around 94% of hospitals and 80% of schools are known to contain asbestos as well as 74% of universities. We can add to this many private sector commercial and industrial buildings and even domestic properties, built or refurbished prior to the ban in 1999.
Despite improved legislation, there are still many thousands of accidental exposures to asbestos every year and over 5,000 deaths; mostly because people are unaware of the presence of asbestos or its danger.
Risk of exposure is low if asbestos is managed effectively
Unfortunately, removal isn’t often feasible, both from a budgetary and operational perspective.
Asbestos guidance recommends leaving asbestos containing materials in situ and managing them effectively. Unless the asbestos starts to deteriorate, or renovations are taking place which may disturb the fibres, it's safer left intact. That’s long as people know it's there and not to disturb it.
Most asbestos related deaths occur as a result of accidental exposure to asbestos fibres
There is often a general lack of knowledge about the location of the asbestos and its dangers among those who work or live in premises where it is contained. Whilst contractors and others carrying out building works have the highest risk of exposure, there is a risk to anyone that comes into contact with asbestos fibres that have been disturbed. Mesothelioma can develop from exposure to only a small concentration of asbestos fibres, meaning secondary exposure to asbestos is still a great cause for concern.
A critical factor is making sure people know the exact location of any asbestos at site
Knowing the exact location of the asbestos is critical in reducing the likelihood of accidental exposure. Asbestos awareness training and a comprehensive asbestos register that is readily accessible to staff, contractors and anyone that is likely to come into contact with, or disturb asbestos at site is vital.
The law requires that contractors are given access to a copy of the asbestos register at the site they are attending so they are aware of the presence of any asbestos and its location prior to commencing any work that may put themselves or others at risk.
“One in three construction workers have never seen an asbestos register” - IOSH
In many instances this doesn’t always happen. Each year there are thousands of often unreported accidental disturbances of asbestos containing materials by contractors carrying out minor works not under control of ACAR. Unfortunately, the site contractor doesn’t know that asbestos is present and has never seen the asbestos register. These contractors are the most likely people to be putting themselves and others at risk. Another problem is that all too often the information contained within the asbestos registers is not presented in a format that is quickly and easily extractable by those carrying out works on site.
Asbestos SMART provides instant access to information concerning any asbestos located at site simply by using a Smartphone.
Asbestos SMART is a simple, easy to use technological solution which gives visiting contractors and key on site personnel immediate access to the latest asbestos register for a building, just by using their Smartphone or smart mobile device. This gives them vital information about the location of the asbestos and lets them know whether it is safe to proceed with their activity.
No user authentication, account sign in or password is necessary. Once the register has been downloaded it can be carried with them on their mobile device throughout the site.
Every building enrolled into the Asbestos SMART system is issued with a unique QR code. The QR code presented can be incorporated into a customisable sign which can act as a passive reminder or be incorporated as an active part of your visitor/contractor sign-in process. This can significantly reduce the time spent distributing asbestos registers to contractors and other relevant persons.
Please visit our website for more information on Asbestos SMART
UKNAR – UK National Asbestos Register
We believe asbestos remains the biggest (albeit hidden) potentially fatal risk still not adequately addressed in the workplace. This has led to Metro Safety supporting the community interest company; UKNAR (UK National Asbestos Register)
UKNAR (UK National Asbestos Register) is a new community interest company established to help management and dutyholders manage asbestos simply and safely while better informing and educating those people who may be at risk. The organisations primary aim is to protect people from unnecessary and potentially deadly exposure to asbestos fibres.
Dutyholders pay a small annual license fee per register. A proportion of this goes to help asbestos victims support organisations and research charities in their daily activities. Profits will also be reinvested to continue to improve the education and awareness of contractors, dutyholders and the general public. UKNAR will work together with other key established associations in this field to achieve this. More information on UKNAR can be found on the organisation’s website https://uknar.org