When you go to work, it’s easy to avoid physical hazards, but what about invisible threats? Wearing protective masks is a simple way to avoid hazardous gases and substances - especially asbestos, which is still a big threat to those working in the construction industry...

What is asbestos?

Asbestos was a commonly used material in the building trade due to its strength and resistance to heat.

Kills around 5000 workers each year, more than the amount of people killed on the road.

Present in buildings built or refurbished before 2000, although it is no longer used in the construction trade.

When disturbed, fibres are released into the air, these fibres can cause serious illnesses over time if inhaled.

Can cause serious illness such as lung cancer, thickening of the lung lining and Asbestosis.

Importance of protective masks:

Whether it’s a full face mask respirator or a disposable half face mask, the importance of using Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) when working with asbestos is paramount.

Reduces the chance  of respiratory illness symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and breathing difficulty. Although you can’t see the hazard, it is still dangerous, even if you are only working in it for a matter of minutes.

Although many people see disadvantages to face masks; such as being uncomfortable to wear for long periods and disrupting communication in the workplace, it’s essential to keep to importance of using protective masks at the forefront of your mind when working around asbestos and other hazardous materials.

DO:

  • Wear protective equipment; a suitable face mask and clothing, worn properly

  • Wash before breaks and before going home

  • Make sure you are aware of working with asbestos and other hazardous materials

  • Replace filters in reusable masks frequently

DONT:

  • Reuse disposable clothing or masks

  • Eat in drink in an asbestos work area

  • Take home overalls used in asbestos work

  • Sweep up dust or debris - use a wet cloth or Type H vacuum cleaner

Wearing a protective mask and coveralls will avoid any chance of damaging your health in the long run. Although protective masks can sometimes be pesky to wear, avoiding developing respiratory diseases should always be of the greatest importance.

When it comes to protective masks, don’t gamble on your health.