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Asbestos

Viimati uuendatud: 11.10.2019


Asbestos

Asbestos are such minerals of the fibrous silicates class like actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, crocidolite, chrysotile and tremolite.

Of the aforementioned, crocidolite, chrysotile and actinolite have been classified as 1st category carcinogens with hazard marking T (toxic) and risk phrases R45 (may cause cancer) and R48/23 (toxic: danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure through inhalation).

Asbestos fibres are hazardous to health when inhaled as dust, favouring the genesis of lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. Asbestos fibres that have entered the digestive system may cause throat, stomach, small intestine or large intestine cancer. As asbestos triggers tumours and tumour genesis is a long-term process, it is believed that up to 30 years may pass from the first encounter with the pathogen until the development of the disease.

Asbestos can be found in:

  • roofs (fibre cement, roofing cardboard and slates),
  • walls (fibre cement, asbestos cement – slates and panels),
  • ceilings (asbestos cement slates, spray-asbestos, thermal insulation materials),
  • building facades (external panels, balcony borders, gutters),
  • slates below windows,
  • trash chutes (fibre cement),
  • ventilation ducts (fibre cement, sealants),
  • fresh water and sewage pipes (pipes, couplings),
  • electrical installations (cable pipes, insulating tapes, asbestos cardboard),
  • heating devices (heat insulation and flame arresting materials of kettles, pipes, ovens, stoves),
  • floor tiles (vinyl-asbestos tiles),
  • foundation (hydro insulation),
  • elevators (shafts, breaks),
  • metal constructions (spray-asbestos).

Asbestos is fire and weather proof, a bad guide of heat, electricity and noise, with a rather big tensile strength, elastic and resistant to alkali and acids. Due to these properties, it has been considered as irreplaceable in several fields of economy. Asbestos has been used as a thermal insulation material, in the composition of building constructions, to block noise, in asbestos cement products (asbestos cement, sewage and drainage pipes, etc.), electric insulation materials and elsewhere. When handling asbestos and products containing it, asbestos dust penetrates into the surrounding, which remains floating in the air due to its’ physical properties (does not settle) and generates an especially hazardous air pollution.

Asbestos Works

Asbestos works is the decomposition, reconstruction, repairs or maintenance of a building containing asbestos, also removing asbestos from a building, machine, device or ship, and its’ collection, preparing for transport, haulage and depositing.

All other works with asbestos, including products containing asbestos, are forbidden. Products containing asbestos may not be taken into use nor sold. Asbestos waste must be handled following the decree „Handling requirements for asbestos-containing waste” by the Minister of the Environment.

The most important requirements for asbestos works are as follows.

  1. Before beginning the works, the employer must determine whether the  demolished, reconstructed, repaired or maintained building could contain asbestos and document the findings. If the asbestos occurrence is confirmed, the works shall be performed following the requirements set on asbestos works.
  2. Prior to each asbestos work, the employer must perform a risk assessment to analyse the manner, extent, duration and employees’ health risk emanating from contact with asbestos, and apply appropriate preventive measures;
  3. Before the start of each asbestos work, the employer is obliged to inform the Labour Inspectorate in writing at least seven days in advance.
  4. Prior to beginning the demolishing or removal works, the employer must compose a written work plan. The work plan must contain descriptions of measures applied to protect employees and other affected employees and residents, the time when the demolished asbestos object was mapped, and      the name of the plan maker. Asbestos mapping means determining the location of asbestos or materials containing asbestos in the building, and evaluating the likely amount of asbestos present.
  5. The content of asbestos fibres in the workplace air is measured when it is necessary to ascertain that the workplace air does not contain any asbestos (air cleanness control) or to guarantee that the asbestos content in the inhaled air does not exceed the marginal rate. Measurements about the asbestos content in air or materials may only be performed by an accredited measuring laboratory.
  6. Before beginning with the first work, the employer organizes at least 8-hour training (mandatory topics are prescribed in the decree) for personnel doing the asbestos work.
  7. The employer guarantees that all employees involved in the asbestos works have their health checked prior to the first work, and thereafter on a regular basis. The mandatory health check analyses are the clinical examination of the torso (fluoroscopic analysis) and pulmonary function test (spirography).
  8. The employer must keep a list of employees that come into contact with asbestos. This list must include the employee’s name, personal identification code, and description of work tasks and duration of each contact with asbestos. This list could prove to be an important document when a diseased is suspected to have asbestosis or some other disease caused by contact with asbestos. The employer must keep this list for at least 40 yeast after the employee’s last contact with asbestos.

Important activities that both the employer and the employee must be capable of:

  • evaluate the asbestos hazard prior to starting the works;
  • if asbestos is present, apply the most effective safety measures;
  • apply safe work techniques when working;
  • use and maintain personal protective equipment;
  • treat asbestos waste;
  • keep track of asbestos level in the air and be aware of the maximum allowed exposure level.

Asbestos Works with Low Risk

Low risk works are such works during which the employees’ contact with asbestos does not exceed the set marginal rate, which is 0.1 fibres per one cubicle centimetre of inhaled air (100,000 fibres in m3), measured or calculated as the weighted average of an 8-hour exposure period.

Examples of low risk work are short-term activities under four hours, during which solid materials are handled in outdoor conditions; removal of non-dissolved materials or products in which asbestos fibres are tied into a solid structure (asbestos cement products); hermetizing or covering materials containing asbestos but which are in good shape, and collecting samples for checking air content or asbestos rate in materials. In the case of low risk works, the employee must not notify the Labour Inspectorate about starting the works, nor compile a plan for the asbestos work.

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