Asbestos still exists in thousands of UK buildings and with HSE recently launching a campaign to reinforce its dangers, workplace equipment supplier Slingsby is advising tradespeople to double-check their personal protective equipment (PPE) is suitable to protect them against the deadly material.

As part of The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, anyone working with sprayed asbestos coatings, insulation, lagging and most types of asbestos insulating board (AIB) requires a licence due to their hazardous nature.  However, most other workers who might come into contact with low risk asbestos materials don’t require a licence but must have completed relevant asbestos training before working with it.

Slingsby supplies more than 35,000 low priced workplace products across all industries including a wide range of masks, overalls and gloves that can help protect against asbestos, which was banned in the UK in 1999.  The products continually prove popular with tradespeople working in old buildings where they suspect asbestos could be present.

HSE’s ‘Beware Asbestos’ safety campaign was mainly aimed at tradespeople who are at risk from exposure to asbestos.  The campaign included the launch of an online app to help identify asbestos and included the distribution of 200,000 asbestos safety kits.

Slingsby’s Group Sales and Marketing Director, Lee Wright, explains: “Asbestos used to be a very popular construction material so it’s still found in many buildings today.  In most cases, as long as it’s well maintained and not disturbed it doesn’t present any immediate health risks.  However inhaling loose asbestos fibres and dust can be lethal.

“HSE’s latest asbestos safety campaign has reinforced the risks of the material and highlighted the fact that even though it was banned in 1999, it still lurks in lots of surprising places.

“It’s also important to bear in mind that although masks, gloves and overalls often look similar, they can offer very different levels of protection against a wide range of materials and substances.  For this reason, it’s always vital to double-check the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure they are designed to protect against asbestos.  Otherwise tradespeople could be risking their lives without even realising it.”

The golden rules for anyone working with asbestos at any level are the same and include the following:

  • Use hand tools – not power tools
  • Keep materials damp – but not too wet
  • Don’t smoke, eat or drink in the work area
  • Double-bag asbestos waste and label the bags
  • Clean up as you go using a special (Class H) vacuum cleaner
  • After work, wipe down your overalls with a damp rag or wear disposable overalls (Type 5)
  • Always remove overalls before removing your mask
  • Don’t take overalls home to wash
  • Wear boots without laces or use disposable boot covers
  • Put disposable clothing items in asbestos waste bags and dispose of them properly
  • Most importantly wear a properly fitted, suitable mask (eg. disposable FFP3 type)

For further information about Slingsby, which continually strives to offer the UK’s lowest prices across its range of 35,000 products, call 0800 2944440 or visit www.slingsby.com