Breathing in asbestos fibres can lead to asbestos related illness. Disease can take many years to develop - so you and your employees will not be immediately aware of a change to someone's health after breathing in asbestos. Therefore, exposure to asbestos should always be avoided to reduce to risk of developing illness in later life. If asbestos is in poor condition or is disturbed then dangerous fibres can be released from asbestos containing materials, particularly asbestos insulation (AI) and asbestos insulating board (AIB).If asbestos is in good condition and is not likely to be disturbed, it poses no risk to health and can be left in place and managed.
Why is Asbestos still a problem?
Although it is now illegal to use asbestos in the construction or refurbishment of any premises, thousands of tonnes of asbestos were used during the 1950's and 1980's. Much of this asbestos is still in place. As long as it is in good condition and is not likely to be disturbed or damaged there is no risk. But if it is likely to be disturbed or is already damaged it can become a danger to health, because fibres can be released into the air and breathed in.
Who is at risk?
Anyone who uses your premises, who disturbs asbestos which has deteriorated or been damaged and is releasing fibres can be at risk.
Anyone who drills, saws, cuts or otherwise breaks into the fabric of a building, without first checking for the presence of asbestos, could also be at risk of exposure.