Does Your Workplace or Home Office Have a Strategy for Controlling Asbestos Exposure?

Does Your Workplace or Home Office Have a Strategy for Controlling Asbestos Exposure?
  • Opening Intro -

    For a long time, due to its resistance to heat, fire, chemicals and failure to conduct electricity, asbestos was considered a safe and versatile material to integrate in a variety of materials from car parts to decorative items and particularly in construction materials.


As a result of its use throughout many industries, anyone from firefighters and construction workers to electricians and shipyard workers were and are at a greater risk of developing malignant mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that is directly related to asbestos exposure.

Even if you don’t work in an industry that works with or handles products containing asbestos, you could be working in a building that contains asbestos, particularly it was constructed before 1980. Although your exposure to asbestos may be minimal and low risk, you should be aware of your workplace’s control strategies for asbestos. If you’re a business owner, you might want to run down an OSHA Inspection checklist to ensure that your building is safe.

Your Right to Know

According to federal law, employees have the right to know about any possible asbestos hazards in the workplace. Although there is currently no requirement to inspect buildings for asbestos, except primary and secondary schools, materials that contain asbestos must be properly labeled and dealt with safely and properly. As an employee, you also have the right to be safe in your workplace and have limited exposure to asbestos.

Although there is no level of exposure to asbestos that is known to be safe, your workplace must follow OSHA’s permissible exposure limits (PEL), which are the maximum levels of a particular substance that employees may be exposed to. The legal PEL for asbestos is one-tenth of an asbestos fiber per cubic centimeter of air over an eight-hour shift.

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Be Informed About Where Asbestos May Be Present

In order to keep their employees safe and informed, your workplace is also responsible for clearly labeling asbestos containing materials (ACM) and presumed asbestos containing material (PACM). These materials may include, but are not limited to pipe and boiler coverings, sprayed on surface material such as fireproofing, asphalt or vinyl flooring, roofing materials, insulation, and popcorn/textured ceilings. Rooms or areas containing these types of materials must have signs posted at the entrance or having warning labels attached to the products, unless materials have been tested and no asbestos was found.

Proper Training and Precautions

If, for example, you work in the office of a building that contains asbestos, you’re not likely to come in direct contact with it nor have any reason to. Staying out of hazardous areas and reporting anything that looks damaged are the best measures for your safety.

If you, however, work in an area where you may have to disturb or repair any ACM or PACM, you must be given proper training, protective clothing, respiratory protection, and medical monitoring may be required as well.

Additionally, your workplace should have methods and procedures in place to monitor the concentration of airborne asbestos, decontaminating workers clothes, and the safest removal and cleanup of asbestos waste and related material.

If you suspect that asbestos is present in your workplace, but you fail to see or hear of any controlled strategies for dealing with asbestos, you may contact OSHA to file a report or receive other pertinent information.

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