Asbestos Still a Workplace Concern

April 30, 2003
Asbestos-containing products are still being produced and used in the United States, and asbestos remains a significant workplace safety concern, warns an American Society of Safety Engineers official.

In a paper titled "It's Back Asbestos Gets a Second Wind," to be published in ASSE's Professional Safety journal, Jeff Camplin, CSP, ASSE assistant administrator for the environmental practice specialty, states that materials that may still be imported or produced with asbestos in them include: cement - corrugated and flat sheeting, clothing, pipeline wrap, roofing felt, vinyl floor tile, cement shingle, millboard, cement pipe, automatic transmission components, clutch facings, friction materials, disc brake pads, drum brake linings, brake blocks, gaskets, non-roofing coatings and roof coatings.

Camplin, an Illinois-licensed asbestos professional since 1986, said asbestos can "be an issue even if inspection reports state no asbestos is present in a building. Asbestos inspections typically have flaws that SH&E professionals need to be aware of, including knowing the proper inspection scope, lack of inspector and lab qualifications, new regulatory requirements and much more."

Camplin notes that even when air in a work area has been declared clear of asbestos, asbestos fibers can still remain in the air and on surfaces. There is no federal regulation requiring surface dust to be tested for asbestos, Camplin stated, and the existing analytical methods used to determine asbestos contamination in surface dust continue to be problematic.

To address these issues, Camplin said SH&E professionals should use due diligence requirements to identify asbestos with or without existing asbestos inspections; realize that these emerging asbestos issues pertain to existing and new construction; and be aware that EPA has developed excellent guidance for testing, cleaning and clearing asbestos-contaminated buildings.

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