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March 29, 2022

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HSE research provides new insight into asbestos exposures to licensed removal workers

A new HSE report has unveiled research into asbestos exposures to licensed removal workers in Great Britain, assessing the compliance of work practices with HSE guidance.

Asbestos warning signIn Great Britain, there are approximately 5,000 cancer deaths a year due to asbestos exposure. Though the import and use of all types of asbestos was banned in 1999, asbestos could still be present in any building, built or refurbished before 2000.

High-risk asbestos removal can only be undertaken by licensed HSE contractors. Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations, exposure must be prevented or effectively controlled.

Between 2016 and 2019, HSE scientists visited eight removal sites, with removals including asbestos insulating board (AIB), insulation, and prayed coating. The researchers monitored airborne fibre concentrations using samplers and observed work practices.

Removal contractors and workers participate on a voluntary basis; therefore, the findings are likely to indicate exposure levels and working practices for contractors and workers undertaking licensed asbestos removal. The findings are not intended to be representative of the removals industry overall.

Three main research findings include:

  1. Asbestos fibres were present in the airborne fibre samples
  2. Some airborne fibre concentrations measured in the study were above the limit
  3. There is scope for further exposure reduction, for example, by ensuring workers wear respiratory protective equipment (RPE) during set up and dismantling of the enclosure used for removal activities.

These findings are being used to inform HSE communications with stakeholders and updates to HSE guidance.

In a recent episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we speak to campaigner and SHP’s Most Influential Individual in health & safety, Dr Mavis Nye about her work raising awareness of dangers of asbestos exposure.

To listen to the episode in full, simply click the play button, below:

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