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Asbestos and the OSHA

Asbestos is well recognized as a health hazard and is highly regulated. An estimated 1.3 million employees in construction and general industry face significant asbestos exposure on the job. Heaviest exposures occur in the construction industry, particularly during the removal of asbestos during renovation or demolition. Employees are also likely to be exposed during the manufacture of asbestos products (such as textiles, friction products, insulation, and other building materials) and during automotive brake and clutch repair work.

OSHA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asbestos rules are intertwined.

Asbestos OSHA Standards

Asbestos is addressed in specific standards for the general industry, shipyard employment, and the construction industry. This page highlights OSHA standards, preambles to final rules (background to final rules), Federal Registers (rules, proposed rules, and notices), directives (instructions for compliance officers), and standard interpretations (official letters of interpretation of the standards) related to asbestos.

Asbestos Hazards

Asbestos workers have increased chances of getting two principal types of cancer: cancer of the lung tissue itself and mesothelioma, a cancer of the thin membrane that surrounds the lung and other internal organs. These diseases do not develop immediately following exposure to asbestos, but appear only after a number of years. The following documents describe the health hazards of asbestos and how to recognize it.



Asbestos Evaluating Exposure

Determinations of employee exposure shall be made from breathing zone air samples that are representative of the 8-hour TWA and 30-minute short-term exposures of each employee.

Asbestos Control

Controlling the exposure to asbestos can be done through engineering controls, administrative actions, and personal protective equipment. Engineering controls include such things as isolating the source and using ventilation systems. Administrative actions include limiting the workers exposure time and providing showers. Personal protective equipment includes wearing the proper respiratory protection and clothing. The following resources contain information to help control asbestos exposures.

Asbestos Training

The employer shall institute a training program for all employees who are exposed to airborne concentrations of asbestos at or above the PEL and/or excursion limit and ensure their participation in the program. Training shall be provided prior to or at the time of initial assignment and at least annually thereafter.

Asbestosis Symptoms

The effects of long-term exposure to asbestos typically don't show up for 20 to 30 years after exposure. Symptoms of asbestosis appear gradually only after large areas of the lung become scarred. The first symptom of asbestosis is usually shortness of breath following exercise or other physical activity. The early stages of the disease are also characterized by a dry cough and a generalized feeling of illness. A person with noncancerous asbestos effusion may have difficulty in breathing because of fluid accumulation. Pleural plaques cause only a mild breathing difficulty that results from stiffness of the chest wall. Smokers who have chronic bronchitis along with asbestosis may cough and wheeze. Gradually, breathing becomes more and more difficult. In about 15% of people with asbestosis, severe shortness of breath and respiratory failure develop.

 

As the disease progresses and lung damage increases, shortness of breath occurs even when the patient is at rest. Recurrent respiratory infections and coughing up blood are common. So is swelling of the feet, ankles, or hands. Persistent pain in the chest and shortness of breath are the most common symptoms caused by mesothelioma. Other symptoms of advanced asbestosis include chest pain, hoarseness, and restless sleep. Patients who have asbestosis often have clubbed (widened and thickened) fingers. Other potential complications include heart failure, collapsed (deflated) lung, and pleurisy (inflammation of the membrane that protects the lung).

 

 Click here for more detailed information regarding OSHA-Asbestos

 
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