Asbestos Awareness

Asbestos is still a major concern across the world and indeed no less so in the UK. Organisations large and small need to be aware of the dangers of asbestos, whether you occupy a commercial building for your business or work in a construction-related business.

Exposure to asbestos can be lethal. Asbestos exposure may also increase the risk of asbestosis (an inflammatory condition affecting the lungs that can cause shortness of breath, coughing, and permanent lung damage) and other non-malignant lung and pleural disorders, including pleural plaques (changes in the membranes surrounding the lung).

How long after exposure to asbestos do symptoms appear?

In most asbestosis patients, symptoms develop within 20 to 30 years after being exposed to asbestos. If someone is exposed to asbestos for a long time, a decade or more, the latency period of symptom development is closer to 20 years.

In 2019, asbestos was responsible for over 5,000 deaths, with 2,369 being attributed to mesothelioma deaths and a similar number of lung cancer deaths, according to the latest HSE statistics for the UK.

Around 20 tradespeople die each week linked to past exposure to asbestos, with builders, plumbers, electricians, demolition workers and interior contractors amongst those most at risk.

Even though a total asbestos ban was introduced in 1999, it was previously used in over 4,000 products and therefore can still be found in the fabric of many domestic and non-domestic premises. There are still deaths occurring of people who had been exposed to asbestos over 50 years ago.

Common products that contain asbestos include asbestos insulating board, asbestos cement, textured coatings, sprayed coatings on ceilings and walls, pipe lagging and indeed some floor tiles also can contain asbestos.

How long does asbestos stay in the air?

The toxic mineral dust can remain in the air for hours, placing anyone nearby in danger of inhaling or ingesting it. In an environment with little disturbances, it may take 48 to 72 hours for asbestos fibres to settle. If the dust is disturbed, it can easily become airborne again because it is so light.

Many older buildings that have been modernised and have void areas or partitioning walls that may conceal asbestos from the original build.

Risk Assessment

If any alteration work is planned.  It is essential that an asbestos risk assessment is carried out by a competent person who is able to identify where asbestos may be present and indeed the type of asbestos. From this assessment, the appropriate course of action will then need to be carried out and allow enough time as advised before any of the planned work can be carried out.

If you need assistance completing a risk assessment in your workplace, our team of expert H&S consultants can support you and ensure your business correctly manages risk. In addition, we can offer dedicated support on a wide range of H&S issues to ensure you and your business remain protected.


If you work in a construction-related business, it is essential that your employees are continuously trained in asbestos awareness.

Incorrect handling of asbestos or unlicensed disposal is not only irresponsible and dangerous. If caught the fines and damages will far out way the cost of having employees aware and having it handled safely and disposed of by qualified, licensed operators.

As an employer, you have a legal duty to keep your employees safe, if you would like to discuss how to properly protect your workforce from asbestos, get in contact with our team of experts today.

T: 0330 107 1037


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