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Posted on: September 5, 2016 By: Trevor Atherton, Safety Mgr

Asbestos Awareness

Gribbins Insulation - Toolbox Talk

The purpose of this program is to make our employees aware of the health effects caused by asbestos and how to identify potential sources of asbestos fiber.  Gribbins Insulation Company does not engage in asbestos removal and employees are prohibited from handling asbestos containing materials (ACM) or entering controller areas where ACM is being removed.

Asbestos is a mineral fiber mined from natural deposits.  The most common form of asbestos used in construction is Chrysotile, a whitish mineral fiber.  Other types used include Amosite (used in elbows and around boilers) and Crocidolite.  In construction, Asbestos was used prominently in fire protection, insulation, wrapping of boilers, hot water and steam pipes, textiles, plaster, ceiling tile, floor tile, siding, and roofing materials.  Asbestos was a popular building material because of its natural fire retardant properties.  Asbestos is found in the majority of buildings built or remodeled between 1930 and 1976 such as schools, hospitals, offices, and homes.  It is most dangerous when disturbed, sending microscopic fibers into the air to be inhaled by workers.

Materials are considered to be ACM (Asbestos Containing Materials) when they contain more than 1% of asbestos fiber by weight and shall be handled in accordance with applicable OSHA and EPA standards.  Gribbins Insulation Company does not engage in asbestos removal.  Employees who suspect that ACM is present shall notify their Supervisor immediately. The Safety Director or other person competent in the recognition of Asbestos shall inspect the suspect ACM material.  If the material is found to be ACM, work will cease in that area immediately and the property owner notified.

Diseases related to asbestos exposure include:

  • Asbestosis – scarring of lung tissue that may become so severe that the lungs are unable to get enough oxygen to the bloodstream and vital organs.  Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath and a tightness or pain in the chest.  Causes of death include heart failure, respiratory infections or the later development of lung cancer.
  • Lung Cancer – malignant tumors may grow in the lungs.  Symptoms include cough or change in cough habit and chest pain.
  • Pleural Mesothelioma – malignant tumors may grow in the lining of the chest or abdominal cavity.  Symptoms include shortness of breath, pain in the chest wall, weight loss and cough.  Death usually occurs one year after diagnosis.
  • Gastrointestinal Cancer – tumors may grow in parts of the digestive tract, esophagus, stomach, colon or pancreas.

Risks of getting asbestos-related diseases depend upon the following:

  • Level of asbestos exposure (primary consideration)
  • Length of asbestos exposure
  • Smoking habits (smokers are more susceptible than non-smokers)

Symptoms could occur as much as 10-40 years after exposure.

Asbestos fibers get into the lungs by being inhaled through the mouth or nose.  The fibers are so small, that the body’s natural defenses against inhalation of dusts are ineffective.  Asbestos fibers reach all parts of the lungs and injure the lungs by scarring the tissue.  As scar tissue develops, the lungs are less able to transfer oxygen from the air to the bloodstream and to transfer carbon dioxide from the bloodstream to the air.  Some scarring may also result in the growth of cancerous tumors.  The smallest fibers of asbestos are smaller than human cells, and the fibers can migrate into other parts of the body.  Ingested asbestos fibers may damage the stomach and intestinal tract.

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