As a business owner, you want to be sure that your employees are as safe as possible while they are on the job. Though you may have already done security-related tasks like installing an alarm system, purchasing equipment and company cars filled with safety features, your workers may still be at risk from something that is hard to see with the naked eye: asbestos.
Asbestos is a group of naturally-occurring minerals that are corrosion and heat-resistant. These qualities made asbestos popular as insulation in products like pipes, floor tiles, machinery parts and building materials. Asbestos is now known to be a major health hazard and its use is highly regulated by both OSHA and the EPA. Workers who breathe in asbestos fibers can accumulate scar-like tissue in their lungs called asbestosis; it can also lead to a form of lung cancer called mesothelioma. Fortunately, there are a number of proactive tips that business owners can follow to help prevent asbestos exposure in the workplace.
Consult an Experienced Attorney
One of the best ways to reduce the hazards of asbestos in the workplace is to learn where and how other companies went wrong. Because law firms that specialize in mesothelioma cases are typically highly knowledgeable about this subject, you may want to reach out to one and speak with an attorney about past asbestos-related mistakes and how to prevent them.
Educate Your Workers About Dangers
To prevent asbestos exposure at work, start by informing your team about how they should protect themselves. Teach employees about asbestos and where it can typically be found — this includes ceiling and floor tiles, insulated pipes, machinery parts and more. Advise them never to cut, saw, drill, sand or disturb in any way any materials that may obtain asbestos, and to always wear their protective gear while at work. Remind them not to sweep up or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos, and to leave certain items alone — like broken ceiling tiles — and not touch them until they notify you and tests can be run on to determine if they contain asbestos.
Follow OSHA Guidelines
Another way to be sure that your workplace is as safe as possible from asbestos is to closely follow the OSHA guidelines. OSHA requires employers to test the air in the workplace and keep asbestos levels below 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter during an 8-hour work shift. In addition, OSHA rules say that business owners must regularly assess the workplace for asbestos risks, keep records of their air monitoring and offer respiratory protection to their team — especially if they are at risk of exceeding the aforementioned levels. In addition, if the workplace does contain asbestos, company owners are required to create regulated areas and to add engineering controls to reduce the airborne levels of the fibers. Once a source of asbestos has been found in the workplace, isolate it and use proper ventilation systems to keep it under control while limiting your team’s exposure to the area.