Protecting Workers from Asbestos Exposure
Although it is highly regulated and banned for several new uses, asbestos is found in many buildings constructed before 1980 and is still in use in the United States. That means an exposure risk exists for those who occupy buildings with deteriorating asbestos- containing materials and for workers in older buildings undergoing renovation, remodeling or asbestos mitigation.
Exposure to asbestos through inhalation of fibers is linked to respiratory diseases including mesothelioma and lung cancer. Before 1977, asbestos was used in many products and in construction materials due to its ability to resist heat, fire and electricity. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a series of rules banning some asbestos uses and limiting others over the years, but efforts to ban it completely in the U.S. have been unsuccessful.
EPA Issuing Significant New Use Rule
Most recently, in April 2019, the EPA issued a final rule that strengthens the agency’s ability to prevent previously discontinued asbestos products from re-entering the marketplace without review. The rule is designed to close a “loophole in the regulatory regime for asbestos” and is scheduled to take effect June 24, 2019, according to the EPA. The rule will require companies to obtain federal approval in order to domestically manufacture or import asbestos products for previously discontinued uses.
Asbestos Awareness Training Keeps Workers Safe
Meanwhile, the potential for exposure to building materials that contain asbestos can be high for workers, including housekeepers, janitorial and engineering staff in addition to construction workers, building inspectors and others. The EPA’s Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) of 1987 as well as the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) established training requirements for certain workers at risk of exposure. Some companies also require their vendors to participate in asbestos training.
A two-hour asbestos general awareness course and annual refresher training is designed to help minimize risks to both building workers and occupants by teaching participants how to recognize potential asbestos containing materials and signs of asbestos deterioration, as well as how to safely manage their work to avoid being exposed to asbestos fibers or increasing others’ risk of exposure.
At Omega Environmental, our staff includes California and EPA-certified trainers available to provide asbestos awareness training to companies, their contractors, employees or vendors. Topics include:
- The history of asbestos
- Characteristics of asbestos building materials
- Health effects and risks
- Regulations and program training
- Information regarding asbestos site assessments
Asbestos Management Expertise for Safe, Cost-Effective Solutions
Keep the public and your employees safe from asbestos exposure by partnering with an experienced and reliable environmental consulting and management firm like Omega. In addition to asbestos awareness training, we provide a full range of services for managing asbestos, from consultation and assessment to remediation services and operations and maintenance programs.
Contact Omega Environmental to find out how we can help your company assess and remediate asbestos safely, cost effectively and in compliance with environmental regulations.