According to the HSE (in their Asbestos Related Diseases Statistics published in November 2020) over 5,000 deaths per year are being caused by Asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. 
What is Asbestos? 
Asbestos is a mineral that was mined for and used heavily in the construction/manufacturing industry following World War II, largely used in insulation, and building materials. This was due to its properties such as being a good thermal insulator, a good electrical insulator, minimal chemical reactions as well as being relatively fireproof. All these attributed made asbestos one of the best building materials. The only downside to Asbestos which was not widely known at the time was that once these Asbestos containing material are broken, the fibres they release are deadly once breathed in. 
What makes Asbestos so dangerous? 
When Asbestos containing materials or ACMs are broken or start to break-down they release exceedingly small fibres into the air, some looks like string others look like needles. 
Some people may know these two different types of fibre as White (String) and Brown/Blue (Needle) Asbestos. The real names for these types of asbestos are Chrysotile (White), Amosite (Brown), Crocidolite (Blue). These fibres once inhaled become stuck in the lung tissue. Over some time, the fibres can cause enough genetic and cellular damage to cause lung cells to turn cancerous. 
What can we do? 
The best way to protect your employees from Asbestos is preventing exposure entirely! 
• Avoid disturbing asbestos containing materials. 
• Ensure that anyone working around or near asbestos has received adequate training. 
• If Asbestos containing material is found during work, all work should stop immediately in the area and a Plan created. 
Planning – Prioritising risk management 
• Identify where there may be asbestos containing materials, this can be done via Asbestos survey. 
• Consider eliminating the need to work with or near asbestos. Can you avoid disturbing asbestos by doing the job some other way? 
• Does the work need to be done by a licensed contractor? 
• Where is it not possible to eliminate risk, develop a plan of work that highlights the risk and identifies the controls that must be used. This should be accompanied with a Risk Assessment and all of this should be communicate to all involved. 
• All workers MUST be provided with appropriate respiratory protective equipment (RPE) and any other Protective equipment identified in the plan of work or Risk Assessment. 
There is no cure for Asbestos related Cancer. 
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