Safety Training

Shopping Bag 0


Asbestos Exposure at Work

3 May 2024

Asbestos exposure at work is the primary cause of mesothelioma and asbestosis. Being around asbestos puts people at risk for several types of cancer and serious pulmonary diseases. While asbestos was widely used in construction until recently, some occupations have higher risks of exposure to asbestos in the workplace.


What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring mineral silicates. Asbestos is strong, inert, resilient and flexible and therefore almost indestructible. On paper, this material would appear as the ideal material. Indeed, until recently it was used in a wide range of products requiring heat resistance and insulation properties. However, today we know without doubt that asbestos is responsible for asbestos-related diseases such as cancers of the chest and lungs. These diseases will not occur immediately and can take from 15 – 60 years to develop.

There is no safe level of exposure to any form of asbestos! For additional information about asbestos in the workplace, please see eLearn Safety blog entry from 16th June 2023 titled Asbestos in the Workplace.


Why is Asbestos Exposure Dangerous?

Asbestos exposure is very dangerous. Asbestos produces its effects because of the size, strength, sharpness and rugged shape of the tiny fibers it releases. In addition, some of its chemical characteristics play a role. The health hazards arise when these small fibres become airborne and enter the body. The body’s natural defence mechanisms can reject large, visible dust particles and fibres. Unfortunately, small fibres reaching inner tissues are those that are both difficult to remove and the most damaging. They are particularly dangerous because they cannot be seen by the naked eye under normal circumstances. Furthermore, they are too small (less than 5 microns in length) to be trapped by conventional dust filter masks.

To learn some essential information about asbestos hazards, we recommend the eLearn Safety fully online Asbestos Awareness course. The aim of this course is to provide information on the identification and the prevention of occupational illness from exposure to respirable asbestos fibres.


Asbestos Exposure at Work

Asbestos exposure at work mostly refers to construction related activities. However, not only construction workers can become exposed to asbestos. In addition to construction workers, firefighters, industrial workers, power plant workers, shipyard workers and any other persons exposed to asbestos dust can become affected.

Asbestos found in construction work is usually encountered in the demolition or refurbishments processes. However, even simple jobs such as drilling partitions or removing ceiling tiles can disturb asbestos dust. It is important to be aware that asbestos can be found in composite materials such as concrete products and tiles. Asbestos was used as an additive in these products to provide strength, durability and flame resistance. Therefore, neither the colour nor the fibrous look of a substance is a reliable guide. The only reliable identification of the presence of the asbestos is by microscopic analysis in the laboratory. It is therefore safe to assume that any building built (or refurbished) in Ireland before the year 2000 might contain asbestos. A detailed survey will be required to identify where asbestos is present in your building. An asbestos survey must be carried out by a competent person.


The Law

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Exposure to Asbestos) Regulations, 2006 and 2010 are the key regulations relating to asbestos in the workplace. In simple terms, any work with asbestos insulation (for example, pipe/ thermal insulation), asbestos coatings (for example, ‘limpet’ spray coating) or asbestos insulating board must be carried out by competent specialist asbestos contractors. Any maintenance or repair work with asbestos insulation, spray coatings or asbestos insulating board should be restricted to specialist asbestos contractors. Specialised training is required for workers involved – see Section 9 of the HSA Guidance Document.

All asbestos removal or abatement work must be carried out by competent persons who have sufficient training, experience and knowledge appropriate to the nature of the work to be undertaken. This must include practical training. An asbestos awareness course is not sufficient. The asbestos awareness course is a general asbestos awareness course recommended for anyone in the construction industry for general asbestos awareness.

Section 12 of the HSA Guidance Document provides advice on selection of a specialist asbestos contractor.


Online Health and Safety Training

Proactive Health and Safety training is critical to ensure a safe workplace. An effective training program can reduce the number of worker injuries and deaths. It can also reduce instances of property damage, legal liability, illnesses, and missed time from work.

Health and Safety training helps establish a culture in which employees themselves help promote proper safety procedures while on the job. It is important that new employees be properly trained and embrace the importance of workplace safety. The role of training in developing and maintaining effective hazard control activities is a proven and successful method of intervention.

This is why we have established Myelearnsafety school. We pride ourselves in how we guide, support and mentor our students. They receive support throughout their learning experience and into their working lives. Our staff have extensive training experience and also have many years industry experience. We understand the challenges that exist within Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety. Our priority is to ensure that all learners are fully prepared to differentiate themselves in the workplace after completing our Health and Safety courses.

Myelearnsafety offers fully online Health and Safety courses.

To find out more, please check our Courses page.

Alternatively, should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to let us know via email

eLearn asbestos-exposure-at-work

eLearn Online Health and Safety Training