While many tradies know that asbestos poses a significant health risk, some struggle with its identification.
Inhaling asbestos can cause mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining around the lungs. The latest statistics from the Australian Mesothelioma Register reveal that an estimated 60% of mesothelioma cases are due to asbestos exposure in the workplace.
There were at least 95 mesothelioma deaths in Victoria in 2016 and 145 new cases of the disease.
“Workers have to know what they should be looking out for before they start work,” said WorkSafe Victoria’s acting director of health and safety, Paul Fowler.
“Asbestos materials were commonly used in buildings before 1990 and are still contained in many structures today.
“Learning more about asbestos and how to identify it could be the difference between developing a severe illness or staying healthy.”
In addition to mesothelioma, asbestos has also been linked to lung cancer and asbestosis, which causes scarring of lungs, shortness of breath and coughing.
Tradies involved in the building and construction industry are most at risk, particularly those involved in home renovations, maintenance, refurbishment or demolition of buildings built before 1990.
Asbestos fibres can be released into the air when drilling, sawing, sanding or when demolition work breaks asbestos materials in walls and floors.
To find out more about asbestos, including how to identify and manage it and who to call if you find it at your worksite, go to asbestos.vic.gov.au
Article by Safety Solutions