What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the common name given to any of the six following minerals: amosite, chrysotile, tremolite, actinolite, anthophyllite and crocidolite. All of these minerals are naturally occurring and are mined from the earth as a raw material in many parts of the world. Asbestos was widely used from the 1940s to the 1990s in thousands of products due to its superior fire-resistant properties.
Materials and products that contain asbestos are usually not a serious health hazard unless they are damaged or disturbed, which causes the asbestos to break into microscopic fibers. These fibers once airborne are extremely dangerous and even a very brief exposure to them can cause lung diseases, including asbestosis. Individuals with asbestosis also have a very high risk of contracting mesothelioma (cancer of the lungs). In many cases, individuals who were exposed to airborne asbestos fibers don’t develop symptoms of lung disease until 20-40 years after exposure.
Asbestos fibers can only be observed through a microscope and due to their small size can remain suspended in the air for many hours or days. Asbestos fibers don’t evaporate and cannot be dissolved in water and are also extremely resilient to extreme heat and many chemicals. Because of these properties asbestos has been used in more than 3,000 different products. Asbestos is one of the best materials for insulation and fire-resistant products.
Due to its heat resistant and fire-resistant properties, asbestos has been used in the manufacture of many products, including ceiling and floor tiles, water pipe insulation, roofing shingles, cement pipes, siding, fire-proof insulation, and many others. It’s also very common to find asbestos in plaster and in many older brands of paint. The asbestos used in these products has usually been mixed with other materials, and the percentage of asbestos used in these products varies from 1-100%. An asbestos containing material (ACM) is any material that is comprised of 1% or more asbestos.
Many commercial and residential buildings built in the mid 20th Century contain asbestos materials. Hiring an asbestos testing contractor to perform an asbestos inspection is the safest and most effective way to determine whether a building contains asbestos.
Asbestos fibers, once they enter the lungs, can cause asbestosis and/or mesothelioma. Asbestosis is a very serious non-cancerous respiratory condition. Asbestos fibers that have entered a person’s lungs can permanently scar and damage the lung tissue. This lung tissue then becomes unable to transfer oxygen and the functioning of the lungs decreases. Mesothelioma is a rare form of lung cancer usually caused by exposure to asbestos. Individuals with asbestosis have a high chance of developing mesothelioma. There is no effective treatment for either diseases.
Asbestos Awareness Training Courses in the United States
In the US, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (commonly referred to as OSHA) is the federal agency responsible for the enforcement of safety and health regulations in workplaces, including the regulation of asbestos-containing material. If you hare hiring contractors to perform any construction, renovation or demolition work on your home, your home then becomes a workplace. Also, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the use and disposal of asbestos containing materials.
OSHA requires that employers provide a mandatory annual 2-hour asbestos training course for workers who are exposed to asbestos fibers levels above the legal limit (0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter). Additionally, the EPA requires that schools and universities provide a 16-hour training course (consisting of a 2-hour Asbestos Awareness Training Course and a 14-hour O&M Training Course) for all employees, including maintenance and custodial staff, who are likely to come into contact with asbestos.
Standard 2-hour Asbestos Awareness Courses are inexpensive, costing around $20-$40 per individual.
An Asbestos Awareness Course will cover:
- A complete overview of what asbestos is, how it is commonly used and its potential health hazards
- How to identify asbestos containing materials (ACM)
- What products asbestos was commonly used to make and where they are commonly found
- Asbestos regulations and legal requirements
- The correct precautionary measures that must be put in place for anyone who is likely to come into contact with asbestos
- How to react to a release of airborne asbestos fibers
- Asbestos abatement practices and the steps necessary for safe asbestos removal
- The workplace requirements set forth by OSHA for workers how work in buildings that contain asbestos and the regulations businesses must comply with
Usually, students will be required to pass an exam in order to successfully complete the course.
Who Could Benefit from Taking an Asbestos Training Course?
Individuals who are most likely to come into contact with asbestos and would therefore benefit from an Asbestos Training Course include:
- Construction industry workers
- Maritime workers
- Industrial workers
- Maintenance engineers and maintenance employees (including janitors, electricians and contractors) who work in a building that contains asbestos
- Supervisors and managers who work in buildings built prior to the early 1980s (including schools, hospitals, offices and warehouses)
- Homeowners who own properties built before the 1980s (as well as prospective homebuyers)
Additionally, the relatives of individuals who have been in contact with asbestos can benefit from the knowledge and information an asbestos awareness training course will provide.
If you have any questions or concerns about asbestos in your workplace or home, an asbestos training course will be able to answer your questions and provide you with the information you need about handling and disposing of asbestos.
Where to Find an Asbestos Awareness Training Course
Asbestos Awareness Training Courses are available from many private institutions all over the United States. These organizations specialize in educating business owners, managers and employees in the handling and correct disposal of hazardous materials. Many Asbestos Awareness Courses are available online, so you can complete the training from the comfort of your own home or set up a multi-user enterprise system for your business.
Before taking an Asbestos Awareness Course, make sure the training you will be receiving meets OSHA’s Asbestos Awareness training requirements and requirements of the EPA’s Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA).
What to Look For in a Training School
Provides Courses Suitable for Your Needs and Requirements
Naturally, there’s no need to pay for training that you don’t need. What you need is practical and useful information that’s relevant to your situation and circumstances. For this reason, it’s a good idea to thoroughly check what material the course will cover to ensure that it meets your requirements.
Experience Working with Different Organizations
You want to be educated by a company that has had previous experience with training employers, employees and private individuals about asbestos. It’s a good idea to look for a company that has worked with many different industries and has taught large and small businesses, government agencies as well as individuals and their families.
Most asbestos training courses are roughly the same price, so cost usually isn’t a deciding factor.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late – Get the Training You Need Now!
Identifying asbestos is not always easy, and it can be potentially very dangerous to make assumptions with this extremely hazardous material. Without proper training, you may be exposed to risks you aren’t even aware of. This is why undergoing a training course is so essential.
In 2013, approximately 2,686 died from mesothelioma and more than 1,229 died of asbestosis as a direct result of being in contact with asbestos. Additionally, approximately 8,595 died in 2013 died from asbestos-related lung cancer. All of those deaths could have been prevented if those individuals, their employers and the companies that manufactured and distributed products made with asbestos had a full and complete understanding of the health hazards and dangers of asbestos containing materials.
While it is unfortunately too late for those individuals, it’s not too late for you to get the training and information you need to protect your health and potentially save your own life, as well as the lives of your family, relatives, coworkers or employees.