What is Asbestos and How is it Harmful?
Asbestos is commonly found in mines and other confined work spaces. It is a mineral based substance that is made of non-corrosive fibers which makes it incredibly valuable in certain industries. This includes its high tensile strength and flexibility along with its resistance to chemicals.
However, when it becomes airborne asbestos turns into an environmental hazard. The free particles are small enough to enter the body via inhalation and ingestion and do not take long to compromise the digestive tract and respiratory system. Depending on the duration of exposure, workers can fall victim to debilitating and/or fatal diseases.
One of the main ones is asbestosis, which results in a tumor in the body that spreads rapidly in the cells of membranes that make up the lungs and other essential organs. Since 1972 however, such occupational diseases have declined due to OSHA’s attempts to regulate exposure in the general industry. It did this by forbidding the use of materials that contain this harmful material via new standards which also cover workers who repair brakes and who work near asbestos.
The Employer’s Role
According to OSHA safety standards all employers who have workers who work with or near asbestos must keep an accurate record of employee exposure for at least 30 years. This includes the medical surveillance and results of workers who were exposed to the substance throughout their employment for the same duration. Additionally, employers also have to maintain all training records for a year.
All of these records have to remain available for OSHA Assistant Secretary, NIOSH, current employees, ex employees and involved representatives. This rule is applicable under OSHA 29 CFR 1910.20. In case the employer is no longer in business and there is no one to receive those records, he/she has to inform NIOSH’s director about it at least 90 days before they are disposed of.
Employers that are getting work done that is subject to 8 CCR 1529 have to adhere to the following regulations:
- Determine the location and quantity of material that contains asbestos or material that may contain asbestos.
- Notify the regulating authorities within 24 hours of discovering asbestos in a temporary work site. This is applicable in California under Cal/OSHA laws.
- Report any incident that results in asbestos exposure to workers to the Chief of DIOSH within 2 weeks of said incident. A report of use should also be sent if the asbestos covers less than 100 square feet of the area which makes it ineligible for registration.
- Inform building owners, employees and other employers who are working on the site about the presence of asbestos before work is resumed. This includes its location and quantity, the nature of the work, regulation requirements according to area along with exposure prevention methods that can prevent the material from getting airborne.
- Place a warning sign outside the affected area in a language that is understandable to workers.
- Besides making sure that everyone in the vicinity is safe from exposure, employers also need to:
- Protect employees who are exposed to the substance by removing them from the vicinity immediately and have them examined.
- Examine all enclosures on a daily basis to determine if control methods are working in regulated areas.
- Stop work in areas that have asbestos that has not been rendered harmless before exposure is imminent.
10 Hour Cal OSHA Training
The Cal OSHA 10 hour training course from 360Training is designed to cover a number of common occupational hazards along with legalities under the OSHA Act. This includes the prevention of workplace injuries and fatalities in the general industry.
The course also gives an extensive overview of employee rights and employer responsibilities when it comes to handling emergencies, maintaining records and the importance of inspections. This makes it essential for construction personnel who are involved in electrical and masonry work onsite and who are exposed to life threatening hazards such as falls and electrocutions.
The course can be taken online and passing students will be able to download a completion card at the end prior to receiving their 10 hour OSHA card within 6 to 8 weeks. Sign up today.