Asbestos & RIDDOR
Asbestos The HSE reported that last year there were 3,700 occupational cancer cases diagnosed as a result of past exposures in the construction sector.Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK (HSE). On average 20 tradesmen die per week from exposure to asbestos. Asbestos was extensively used as a building material in the UK from the 1950s through to the mid-1980s. It was used for a variety of purposes and was ideal for fireproofing and insulation. Any building built before 2000, (houses, factories, offices, schools, hospitals etc) can contain asbestos. Asbestos materials in good condition are safe unless asbestos fibres become airborne, which happens when materials are damaged. When these fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases which are responsible for around 4500 deaths a year. There are four main diseases caused by asbestos: mesothelioma (which is always fatal), lung cancer (almost always fatal), asbestosis (not always fatal, but it can be very debilitating) and diffuse pleural thickening (not fatal). Asbestos fibres are present in the environment in Great Britain so people are exposed to very low levels of fibres. However, a key factor in the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease is the total number of fibres breathed in. Working on or near damaged asbestos containing materials or breathing in high levels of asbestos fibres, which may be many hundreds of times that of environmental levels can increase your chances of getting an asbestos-related disease. Asbestos related diseases won't affect immediately but later on in life, so there is a need to protect yourself to prevent the contraction of an asbestos-related disease at some point in the future. It is also important to remember that people who smoke and are also exposed to asbestos fibres are at a much greater risk of developing lung cancer. Types of Asbestos There are 3 main types of asbestos – they are: Amosite – often referred to as Brown Asbestos Crocidolite – often referred to as Blue Asbestos Chrysotile – often referred to as White Asbestos All are dangerous, although Blue and Brown Asbestos are known to be more dangerous than White Asbestos. However the type cannot be identified only from its colour. Where can you find asbestos? Asbestos Cement Products Textured Coatings i.e. Artex Floor Tiles, Textiles and Composites Sprayed Coatings on Ceilings, Walls, Beams and Columns Asbestos Insulating Board Lagging Loose Asbestos in floor or ceiling cavities When are you at risk from asbestos? You are working on an unfamiliar site. The building you are working on was built before the year 2000. Asbestos-containing materials were not identified before the job was started. Asbestos-containing materials were identified but this information was not passed on by the people in charge to the people doing the work. You don't know how to recognise and work safely with asbestos. You know how to work safely with asbestos but you choose to put yourself at risk by not following proper precautions, perhaps to save time or because no one else is following proper procedures. As long as asbestos is not damaged or located somewhere it can easily be damaged it won't be a risk. However, it should always be noted that: You can't see or smell asbestos fibres in the air. The effects of being exposed to asbestos take many years to show up - avoid breathing it in now. Smoking increases the risk many times. Asbestos is only a danger when fibres are made airborne and breathed in Licensed Asbestos Work Most asbestos work must be undertaken by a licensed contractor, but any decision on whether particular work is licensable is based on the risk. Licensable work with asbestos is work: Where worker exposure to asbestos is not sporadic and of low intensity; or Where the risk assessment cannot clearly demonstrate that the control limit will not be exceeded i.e. 0.1 asbestos fibres per cubic centimetre of air (0.1 f/cm3); or On asbestos coating; or On asbestos insulation or asbestos insulating board where the risk assessment demonstrates that the work is not short duration work, e.g. when work with these materials will take no more than two hours in any seven day period, and no one person works for more than one hour in that two hour period. A licence is required if you are working with asbestos in any of the above ways as an 'asbestos contractor' on someone else's premises, or within your own premises using your own employees. Licensed asbestos contractors will undertake a number of ancillary tasks as part of the asbestos removal process i.e. Setting up and taking down enclosures for notifiable and licensed asbestos work. Cleaning the structure, plant and equipment inside the enclosure. Some other workers may also have an 'ancillary' license allowing them to do certain types of work, including: Putting up and taking down scaffolding to provide access for licensable work where it is foreseeable that the scaffolding activity is likely to disturb the asbestos. Maintaining air extraction equipment (which includes 'negative pressure' units). Licences to work with asbestos are only granted to those who plan to do work. For most jobs, it is an offence to work with asbestos without a licence and you could be prosecuted. All work must be undertaken in accordance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
RIDDOR Regulations 2013 RIDDOR – Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 – these have recently been updated from the previous 2005 edition. RIDDOR requires deaths and injuries to be reported only when: There has been an accident which caused the injury The accident was work related The injury is of a type which is reportable Accidents In relation to RIDDOR, an accident is a separate, identifiable, unintended incident, which causes physical injury. Injuries themselves, eg ‘feeling a sharp twinge’, are not accidents. There must be an identifiable external event that causes the injury, eg a falling object striking someone. Cumulative exposures to hazards, which eventually cause injury (eg repetitive lifting), are not classed as ‘accidents’ under RIDDOR. 'Work related' RIDDOR only requires you to report accidents if they happen ‘out of or in connection with work’. The fact that there is an accident at work premises does not, in itself, mean that the accident is work-related – the work activity itself must contribute to the accident. An accident is ‘work-related’ if any of the following played a significant role: the way the work was carried out any machinery, plant, substances or equipment used for the work or the condition of the site or premises where the accident happened Reportable injuries The following injuries are reportable under RIDDOR when they result from a work-related accident: The death of any person (Regulation 6) Specified Injuries to workers (as detailed under Regulation 4) Injuries to workers which result in their incapacitation for more than 7 days (Regulation 4) Injuries to non-workers which result in them being taken directly to hospital for treatment, or specified injuries to non-workers which occur on hospital premises. (Regulation 5). Specified Injury Fractures (other than to fingers, thumbs and toes) Amputations Any injury likely to lead to permanent loss of sight OR reduction in sight to one or both eyes Any crush injury to head or torso causing damage to brain or internal organs Any burn injury (including scalding) which: covers more than 10% of the whole body’s total surface area OR causes significant damage to eyes, respiratory system or other vital organs Any degree of scalping requiring hospital treatment Any loss of consciousness caused by head injury or asphyxia Any other injury arising from working in an enclosed space which: leads to hypothermia or heat-induced illness OR requires resuscitation or admittance to hospital for more than 24hrs In some cases, employers and self-employed workers may not be in a position to know the full extent of an injury, e.g. when a prognosis has not yet been established in relation to an eye injury, or when efforts are being made to treat an injured limb which may ultimately require surgical amputation. In such situations, there is no requirement to make precautionary reports of specified injuries. It is likely that the accident will in any case require reporting due to the injured person being incapacitated for more than seven days. The enforcing authority should be notified or updated as soon as a specified injury has been confirmed. Reportable Diseases The following diseases are reportable under RIDDOR when they are linked to occupational exposure to specified hazards: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: where the person’s work involves regular use of percussive or vibrating tools Cramp of the hand or forearm: where the person’s work involves prolonged periods of repetitive movement of the fingers, hand or arm Occupational dermatitis: where the person’s work involves significant or regular exposure to a known skin sensitiser or irritant Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome: where the person’s work involves regular use of percussive or vibrating tools, or holding materials subject to percussive processes, or processes causing vibration Occupational asthma: where the person’s work involves significant or regular exposure to a known respiratory sensitiser Tendonitis or tenosynovitis: in the hand or forearm, where the person’s work is physically demanding and involves frequent, repetitive movements A reportable disease must be diagnosed by a doctor. Diagnosis includes identifying any new symptoms, or any significant worsening of existing symptoms. Employees need to provide the diagnosis in writing to their employer.