There are many hazards covered in Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) in Australia, but there is perhaps no more significant threat to life than asbestos. Believe it or not, despite the substance being outlawed in construction in the late 1990s, around 4,000 Australians die each year from asbestos exposure. As online learning in the subject shows, it's a threat that shouldn't be ignored.
What Is Asbestos?:
Mined from the ground, asbestos is a mineral, like many others. It became popular in construction at the start of the 1900s due to its insulating and heat-resistant qualities, with the deadly fibrous material coming in a few different forms. They include:
The main variety that you'll encounter in buildings is the amosite, and it's a type that contains millions of fibres. It's important to remember that, most often, it's safe when left undisturbed, so it will remain so if you do nothing to change its state.
How Long Does It Take For Asbestos To Affect You?:
If you were to inhale the invisible and deadly fibres - that can lead to mesothelioma and other life-threatening lung conditions - which fill the air after asbestos is disturbed, the likelihood is you wouldn't even know about it. It can take anywhere from 10 years to 40 years, with the most common symptoms being:
- Nighttime sweating
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme tiredness
- Persistent coughing
It's an insidious problem that can lie dormant for decades; however, when illness takes hold, it often proves fatal. So, you can see, it's a significant threat to life.
When Should You Report Asbestos Exposure?:
Take online training in asbestos management; the first thing they tell you to do when encountering asbestos is stepped away and do nothing! When we talk about asbestos exposure, we don't simply mean being in the same room as the stuff before it's disturbed. So, if you act in the way you're supposed to, you shouldn't have to report exposure.
Rule 4 of Australia's Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 states that it's mandatory for business premises owners to conduct a risk assessment to identify the existence or lack thereof of the substance. If that risk assessment highlights asbestos, you'll have the decision to make.
Safe & Proper Asbestos Removal & Disposal:
If your risk assessment detects asbestos in your workplace, the above regulations determine the correct course of action. This action will vary on a case-by-case basis. However, the ultimate outcome will fall into one of two categories:
- Safe removal & disposal - if the asbestos expert involved deems that the safe course of action is to remove the material, it must be carried out in a strictly-controlled way. Only appropriately-trained and qualified people can take care of a job like this, so you should NEVER attempt it yourself. If you do, you could be fined or imprisoned for not following the rules.
- Leaving in Situ - sometimes, it’s simply safer to leave the asbestos where it is rather than disturb it and release all those deadly fibres into the air. Again though, this is the call an expert has to make for the good of everyone who uses the building.
Essentially, your main takeaway from reading this blog is that you should leave well alone and immediately get in touch with an asbestos management specialist. This is just a small part of the process, so if you'd like to learn more about your responsibilities in this area, you should check out the Asbestos Safety & Eradication Agency website for further details.
Enhance Your WHS Knowledge With OCA Short Courses Online
As you can see, Workplace Health & Safety (WHS) is an essential subject that Australian business owners must take seriously - and asbestos control is just one small part. The good news is that if you want to develop your knowledge in this important area, it's easier than ever, thanks to CPD-Endorsed, video-based short courses online like our Workplace Health & Safety course.
Created in conjunction with top industry experts, our learning experience is next-level and a world away from boring text-based courses. In fact, those who take our courses often feed back to us that ours is the most supportive and immersive online education Australia can muster - something you can see for yourself by taking a look at our Student Study Demo.
Flexible payment options and 1-to-1 mentoring are two great features that all OCA students enjoy. You can learn more about this by visiting us at www.onlinecoursesaustralia.edu.au, where you can also see our entire course library, which spans over 20 different industries.
If you'd prefer to speak to us before enrolling on any of our incredible online courses, we'll be happy to answer any questions you might have. It’s easy to get in touch too, which you can do either by calling 1300 611 404 or emailing [email protected].