What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a type of fibrous mineral used largely in products and construction materials, but then in 1970s its use was highly restricted.
Why asbestos is highly restricted?
Asbestos has been connected with many cases of serious lung disorders. This mineral exposure also believed to be the cause of certain type of cancer. Hence, asbestos litigation became one of the first mass torts claims ever recorded.
How is it resolved?
Congress implemented legal reforms such as Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act of 2005, Congressional Record (February 7, 2005), and Senate Bill 852. They are designed to regulate the use of materials that contain asbestos in certain industries and also to protect workers in such industries from the risk of exposure.
Facility Manager Responsibility
In order to minimize the risk of exposure in your facility, your responsibility includes the safety and health of employees under you whose job includes working in and around buildings. Therefore, asbestos surveys to check for the presence of asbestos, security development and emergency preparedness in case of exposure are included in the management.
Asbestos Management Program
- Asbestos Survey
Conducting asbestos survey is aimed to check whether there is indeed asbestos or not within or around facility. However, not all asbestos containing materials (ACM) are harmful even though it is contradicted with popular belief. If during the survey it is found that the ACM is in good condition, it is best to leave it that way. Certain steps can be taken to ensure that it is not disturbed needlessly. It is also necessary to ensure the process of asbestos survey is in accordance with the ASTM International Standard E2356 that recently published for Standard Practice for Comprehensive Building Asbestos Surveys.
- Risk Assessment
In risk assessment, mistake is not allowed. It is different from asbestos survey. The survey involves assessing the ACM to determine if its current condition would pose a risk to workers in the area while risk assessment, as the next step, is simply determining if there is asbestos in the area.
After both asbestos survey and risk assessment are done, a report has to be made. Each report will serve as basis to draft a plan on how to mitigate the potential hazard in the most possible effective manner as well as a long-term plan to address the management of ACM in the place.
The plan to minimize exposure to asbestos is known as O&M program. It will provide policies specific to the facility and procedures on how to address the problem. The program will set up work practices that do not disturb the ACM needlessly so its good condition can be maintained.