How To Identify Asbestos: Identifying Asbestos at Home and in the Workplace
There are many reasons why it is important to know how to identify asbestos, particularly in the workplace. Businesses are obligated to meet their asbestos compliance requirements in order to provide the safest possible environment for their employees.
But, how do you go about identifying asbestos? It is an important process to perform correctly, which is why we’ve written this article to explain what asbestos is, how you identify asbestos, and what you need to do after you have identified asbestos.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral consisting of heat resistant flexible fibres. These qualities made the mineral useful in construction, being used in Australian buildings for approximately half a century. In fact, Australia had the highest use of asbestos per capita, that’s how popular asbestos was.
However, asbestos exposure is highly toxic, making this substance hazardous to human exposure. As a result, it was phased out of construction, and measures have been taken since to ensure that it is identified and removed safely.
When workers handle asbestos-containing materials in an unsafe manner, fibres can be released into the air. When inhaled, these fibres become trapped deep in the lungs, which causes extensive damage to the airways.
What does asbestos look like?
While there are various forms of asbestos that have their own unique physical attributes, all forms of asbestos are invisible to the naked eye. Asbestos fibres can be 50 to 200 times thinner than a human hair and look different depending on the materials it is mixed with.
Because of this, asbestos can only be identified through the use of specialised testing equipment. In order to confirm whether or not a material contains asbestos, you need to submit a sample of said material to a laboratory approved by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) in Australia or International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) in New Zealand for testing services.
Where am I likely to identify asbestos?
Because asbestos was used so heavily in construction, there are various locations in a building that have the potential to still contain harmful asbestos deposits. Some of the areas in the workplace where you may potentially find hazardous material that needs testing are:
How do I identify asbestos?
As you can’t determine asbestos on sight, it’s recommended that you follow the golden rule of if you think there’s asbestos, treat it like there is.
If you suspect there may be asbestos in a section of your building, it is a good idea to get that area assessed. If you are going to conduct repairs or renovations that could potentially displace asbestos containing materials, it is incredibly important that you contact a licensed asbestos assessor to ensure everyone's safety beforehand.
What do I do if I have identified asbestos?
Once it has been confirmed that there is asbestos in your workplace, there are steps that you need to take in order to mitigate any danger and make the environment safe for your employees:
This will ensure the asbestos compliance of your workplace, as the presence of asbestos does not threaten the safety of your employees.
What is the best way to manage identified asbestos assets in my workplace?
Octfolio is a simple yet comprehensive asbestos software solution that lets you control the management of your asbestos assets. It contains every function that you need in order to successfully handle all aspects of asbestos management services, including;
- Asset management
- Report management
- Document management
- Maintenance management
- Digital asbestos register
- Field data collection
- Automated reporting
- Workflow automation
- Asbestos mapping software