What is asbestos?
Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally
occurring minerals used in certain products, such as
building materials and vehicle brakes, to resist heat
and corrosion. Asbestos includes chrysotile, amosite,
crocidolite, tremolite asbestos, anthophyllite asbestos,
actinolite asbestos, and any of these materials that
have been chemically treated and/or altered.
What are the dangers of asbestos
exposure to workers?
The inhalation of asbestos fibers by workers can
cause serious diseases of the lungs and other organs
that may not appear until years after the exposure has
occurred. For instance, asbestosis can cause a buildup
of scar-like tissue in the lungs and result in loss of lung
function that often progresses to disability and death.
Asbestos fibers associated with these health risks are
too small to be seen with the naked eye, and smokers
are at higher risk of developing some asbestos-related
Are you being exposed to asbestos?
General industry employees may be exposed to
asbestos during the manufacture of asbestos-containing
products or when performing brake and clutch
repairs. In the construction industry, exposure occurs
when workers disturb asbestos-containing materials
during the renovation or demolition of buildings.
Employees in the maritime environment also may be
exposed when renovating or demolishing ships
constructed with asbestos-containing materials. In
addition, custodial workers may be exposed through
contact with deteriorating asbestos-containing
materials in buildings.
Are there any OSHA standards that cover
workers exposed to asbestos?
Yes. The Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) has the following three
standards to protect workers from exposure to
asbestos in the workplace:
■ 29 CFR 1926.1101 covers construction work,
including alteration, repair, renovation, and
demolition of structures containing asbestos.
■ 29 CFR 1915.1001 covers asbestos exposure
during work in shipyards.
■ 29 CFR 1910.1001 applies to asbestos exposure
in general industry,