What is asbestos?
Illinois asbestos consists of silicate minerals that occur naturally in nature. Primarily for use in the construction industry, they are found in various products ranging from structural materials to automotive components. The six kinds of asbestos consist of chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite and actinolite. What hazards does asbestos present in the workplace? Asbestos can cause severe illness in the body by either being inhaled or ingested. These asbestos fibers are too small to be seen with the naked eye. One of the more dangerous outcomes of asbestos exposure is mesothelioma which causes the proliferation of malignant cells in the epithelial lining of organs. Those who have worked around asbestos and smokers are at an increased risk of acquiring any number of asbestos-related illnesses.
Have I encountered Illinois asbestos exposure?
When working around or manufacturing materials that contain Illinois asbestos, one can be readily exposed to it. Workers in the maintenance field are exposed to asbestos when they disturb asbestos-containing materials in the renovation or demolition process. In the Navy, exposure can occur when working in or around ships. Still another group, maintenance workers face exposure to asbestos through the cleaning up of buildings that might be contaminated. So are there any measures in place that protect these workers from asbestos exposure? Yes, there are. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have set three guidelines to protect workers on the job from asbestos exposure.
- 29 CFR 1926.1101 addresses the exposure to asbestos in manufacturing work, including repair, overhaul and demolition.
- 29 CFR 1915.1001 addresses the exposure to asbestos in shipyards.
- 29 CFR 1910.1001 addresses the exposure to asbestos in general industry, including automotive repair, maintenance work and the manufacture of asbestos-containing goods.
The manufacturing and shipyard industries have set guidelines to grade the dangers of working around Illinois asbestos:
- Class I is the most dangerous class of asbestos occupations and focus on the removal of thermal system insulation and sprayed-on asbestos constituents.
- Class II includes the elimination of further categories of asbestos-containing materials that are not thermal system insulation, such as flooring and roofing containing asbestos.
- Class III focuses on repair operations where asbestos-containing materials are disturbed.
- Class IV relates to maintenance occupations where workers clean up asbestos debris.
What guidelines should companies put in place to lessen the chances of getting mesothelioma cancer?
When feasible, companies must keep exposure to asbestos to the minimum Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs). Most workplace practices do not guarantee that workers are protected at current PELs. Companies must adhere to reducing workers’ asbestos exposure to the lowest levels possible and then add health protection to meet the PELs. In shipyards and the maintenance industry, work classification has particular control requirements. In the general workplace, controls are designated for automotive work, such as banning the use of compressed air, to remove asbestos. Make sure your workplace is meeting the proper regulations to prevent further asbestos exposure.