Australia, like many other nations, has grappled with the devastating consequences of asbestos in its workplaces. The history of asbestos in Australian workplaces is marked by a long and troubling timeline, characterised by its widespread use, the resulting health crises, and efforts to address this hazardous legacy.
The history of asbestos in Australian workplaces serves as a stark reminder of the importance of occupational health and safety measures and the need for continued vigilance in managing the risks associated with hazardous substances. That’s why this article will discuss the importance of asbestos occupational hygiene.
What are the best asbestos occupational hygiene practices?
Asbestos occupational hygiene practices are crucial for safeguarding the health and safety of workers in industries where asbestos exposure is a risk. These practices also help prevent environmental contamination. Here are the best practices:
Risk assessment and management
- Identify Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACMs): Conduct thorough surveys and assessments to identify ACMs in the workplace.
- Risk Prioritisation: Assess the condition, location, and accessibility of ACMs to prioritise removal or containment efforts.
Asbestos awareness and training
- Employee Education: Ensure that all employees receive asbestos awareness training to recognise potential risks.
- Specialised Training: Workers handling ACMs should receive specialised training in asbestos removal and safe work procedures.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Proper Gear: Provide workers with appropriate PPE, including respirators, disposable coveralls, gloves, and eye protection.
- Fit Testing: Ensure that respirators fit properly and conduct regular fit testing.
Safe work procedures
- Containment and Removal: When working with ACMs, follow strict containment and removal procedures to minimise fibre release.
- Wet Work: Use wet methods to reduce dust and fibre dispersion during asbestos-related tasks.
Asbestos removal and handling
- Licensed Professionals: Hire licensed asbestos removal professionals for any removal or handling tasks.
- Encapsulation and Enclosure: When removal isn't immediately necessary, consider encapsulation or enclosure methods to contain asbestos.
- Regular Sampling: Implement a comprehensive air monitoring program to measure airborne asbestos fibre levels.
- Action Thresholds: Establish action thresholds and take corrective measures if limits are exceeded.
- Secure Disposal: Ensure proper disposal of asbestos waste in accordance with local regulations.
- Labelling: Clearly label asbestos waste containers to prevent accidental exposure.
- Decontamination Facilities: Provide decontamination facilities for workers to use after handling ACMs.
- Procedures: Follow established decontamination procedures, including clothing removal and showers.
- Adhere to Regulations: Stay informed about and comply with local, state, and national asbestos regulations and guidelines.
- Documentation: Maintain detailed records of asbestos-related activities, including surveys, removal, and employee training.
Ongoing monitoring and review
- Regular Audits: Conduct periodic audits of asbestos management practices to identify areas for improvement.
- Updating Procedures: Keep procedures and practices up to date with evolving industry standards and regulations.
- Regular Health Checks: Establish a health surveillance program for workers exposed to asbestos to monitor their well-being.
- Early Intervention: Detect and address health issues at an early stage for better outcomes.
Implementing these best asbestos occupational hygiene practices not only protects the health and safety of workers but also reduces the risk of environmental contamination. Regular training, adherence to regulations, and a commitment to continuous improvement are essential components of a comprehensive asbestos safety program in any workplace.
How can Octfolio help with asbestos occupational hygiene?
Octfolio is an asbestos software solution designed to give you every function required to successfully handle all aspects of ACM management, such as;
- Asset management
- Report management
- Document management
- Maintenance management
- Digital register
- Field data collection
- Automated reporting
- Workflow automation
- Mapping software