In Switzerland, around 100 people die each year because they have inhaled asbestos dust at work. The use of asbestos has been banned since 1990. However, this insidious material is still common in buildings built before 1990.
Asbestos: Key Facts in a Nutshell
- Asbestos is a natural mineral that was once widely used in construction, shipbuilding, automotive and other industries.
- It is fire resistant, nonflammable and provides good insulation. It is made up of small, fibrous crystals that are easily suspended in the air and inhaled.
- Asbestos is harmful to health because it can damage the lungs and lead to conditions such as lung cancer, asbestosis (a chronic lung disease), and mesothelioma (a rare, malignant tumor of the abdominal or chest cavity).
- Health effects usually appear years or even decades after exposure.
Why should you be concerned with the issue of asbestos?
There are several reasons why it may be important to address the issue of asbestos:
- Health: Asbestos is a known carcinogen. This means that it increases the risk of cancer. It is important to be educated about the risks of asbestos and how to protect yourself.
- Environment:Asbestos is a natural mineral that occurs in the environment. However, it can also be found in the form of waste and debris. If asbestos is not disposed of properly, it can cause environmental pollution and health problems for those who come into contact with it.
- Occupational Safety: Some occupational groups, such as construction workers, as well as firefighters and paramedics, have a higher risk of asbestos exposure. It is important to protect these occupational groups accordingly.
Where was asbestos installed?
Even today, workers come into contact with a wide variety of building materials containing asbestos, e.g. during conversions and demolition and renovation work. Asbestos may be present in corrugated sheeting, wiring and sewer pipes, plastic sheeting or flooring, false ceilings, adhesives, paints or mastics. Bricklayers, roofers, siding contractors, electricians, painters, plasterers, mechanics, plumbers, locksmiths, and other skilled trades must expect to encounter asbestos-containing materials in their work.
Legal basis asbestos
In Switzerland, there are several legal regulations that are of importance in the field of asbestos. One important legal regulation in the area of asbestos is the Labor Law (ArG). It stipulates that certain asbestos products and substances containing asbestos are generally prohibited and that asbestos work may only be carried out by specially qualified persons.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act also contains requirements for the licensing of asbestos work. It also regulates who may carry out asbestos work, what training and testing is required, and what precautions must be taken when carrying out asbestos work.
Which companies should be concerned with asbestos?
Companies that operate in industries where asbestos has been or is still commonly used should be particularly concerned with asbestos. Examples of such industries include construction, shipbuilding, automotive, and maintenance. Companies in such industries could encounter asbestos in buildings, products, and materials during maintenance and repair work.
Companies that could come into contact with asbestos should be aware of regulatory requirements and recommendations regarding the safety of renovating, dismantling, and disposing of buildings and products that contain asbestos. To do so, they should also implement appropriate processes and procedures to safely and properly dispose of asbestos.
Who in the company should deal with this?
Safety Officers & Safety Coordinators
How does SBIS support?
We help in various areas when it comes to asbestos.