“My, how things have changed!”

"Asbestos in plaster" by Sarflondondunc on Flickr

“Asbestos in plaster” by Sarflondondunc on Flickr

That’s the word from one of my safety contacts in the UK who emailed an answer to my question: “What’s the most dangerous thing you’ve ever been asked to do at work?”

Back in 1975, he was a trades apprentice renovating a school built in 1950.

“I was given a damp cloth to cover my mouth, and a large hammer, and told to smash down the ceilings in the corridors to make way for the new replacement ceiling,” he wrote. “The old ceiling was completely made up of asbestos boarding! My, how things have changed!”

Very true. Today there are strict procedures for dealing with asbestos. A wet cloth over your mouth is a far cry from what’s required by the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation here in BC.

Here in my jurisdiction, OHS Regulation Part 8 Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment calls for full facepiece powered air-purifying respirators with HEPA 100 filters.

More asbestos resources

Many other organizations work to protect workers against asbestos exposure. Their offerings include the following:

OHS Answers: Respirator Selection from the Canadian Centre For Occupational Health and Safety

Safe Work Practices For Handling Asbestos from WorkSafeBC

Health Risks of Asbestos from Health Canada

Today my UK contact is a health and safety consultant who advises companies, and I thank him for sharing his shocking story. If you have a story of workplace danger to share, please email me at susan@speakingofsafety.ca.

This video – Overview of Asbestos Removal Procedures US 1999 – was produced by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

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