Asbestos is the generic term used for a number of fibrous minerals that are found naturally throughout the world. The word asbestos comes from the Greek term “unquenchable or intextinguishable” and the fibrous materials were used predominantly for their thermal and fire retardant properties.
Due to its properties asbestos was used in many products, such as pipes, insulation, tiles and cement, especially in the 1940’s and 1960’s. Due to asbestos fibres being linked to a number of lung related diseases use was totally banned in the UK in 1999.
Today asbestos containing materials (ACMs) can still be found in a huge number of buildings, including shops, hospitals, schools and factories throughout the UK … and the World.
Being aware of where asbestos can be found is vital to reducing the health risks faced by workers today. Asbestos is a hidden danger as ACMs could be found in numerous places within an industrial or residential building. Trades people could come across asbestos just by carrying out routine work like drilling holes in textured ceilings or insulation boards and replacing old panels around baths.
The human cost of asbestos disease is devastating - current figures (via HSE) show that approximately 5,000 people die each year in the UK from asbestos related diseases.
If asbestos material needs to be removed then the property owner or manager should call in a specialist removal contractor. The importance of this cannot be overstated.
Due to the health risks faced by working on / with materials containing asbestos such work is highly regulated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).