MEL Health and Safety Consultants



Ten facts about Asbestos


1.  Asbestos is the biggest cause of deaths currently occurring as a result of work.


2.  Asbestos-related diseases kill an average of 20 tradespeople every week.


3.  It was widely used as a building material until 1999, when it was banned.


4.  It can still be found in any house or building built before 2000.


5.  It can take anywhere between 15 - 60 years for symptoms of an asbestos-related disease to develop.


6.  It can be in many commonly found materials and may be in places that you might not expect.


7.  You can’t see or smell asbestos fibres.


8.  Asbestos is only a danger when the fibres are released, made airborne and breathed in.


9.  As long as the asbestos is in good condition, is located somewhere where it can’t be easily damaged and is not disturbed, then it shouldn’t be a risk to you.


10. The vast majority of HSE’s publications on asbestos are free to download.


The potentially deadly consequences of exposure to asbestos fibres:


•   Mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the lungs which is always fatal and is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos)


•   Asbestos-related lung cancer (again almost always fatal)


•   Asbestosis (a scarring of the lungs which is not always fatal but can be a very debilitating and painful disease, greatly affecting quality of life)


•   Diffuse pleural thickening (a thickening of the membrane surrounding the lungs which can restrict lung expansion leading to breathlessness)

Info Bite 154
November 2014