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Get the Facts: New OSHA Asbestos Fact Sheet
The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a new Asbestos Fact Sheet. This is critical information for anyone who works in an industry where they come into contact with asbestos. This includes people who are working on infrastructure repairs in many of our cities and might not realize that the work they are doing (repairing old water pipes, for example) could be exposing them to asbestos.
The Asbestos Fact Sheet details the basic precautions that must be taken for workers and provides information about OSHA’s three standards to protect people who may be working with asbestos.
Given the significant dangers associated with unprotected asbestos exposure, safety measures are of paramount importance and involve several steps, from training before contact with asbestos to proper procedures and medical supervision after contact. In addition, there are critical details such as the need for all workers to have separate decontamination and lunch areas to avoid contamination.
The Asbestos Fact Sheet also lists OSHA’s Worker Rights, which are:
Workers have the right to:
- Working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
- Receive information and training (in a language and vocabulary the worker understands) about workplace hazards, methods to prevent them, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace.
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
- Get copies of test results that find and measure hazards.
- File a complaint asking OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA‘s rules.
- OSHA will keep all identities confidential.
- Exercise their rights under the law without retaliation or discrimination.
At this time, the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for asbestos is 0.1 fiber per cubic centimeter of air as an eight-hour time-weighted average (TWA), with an excursion limit (EL) of 1.0 asbestos fibers per cubic centimeter over a 30-minute period.
While any exposure to asbestos could be dangerous, if your job requires you to come into contact with asbestos there are measures that you and your employer can and must take to ensure that you are safe both now and in the future, as asbestos-related diseases may take years to develop. It is also your employer’s responsibility to make sure that no one is exposed above these limits.
We encourage you to share this information with anyone you know who may work in an industry that comes into contact with asbestos. For a more comprehensive list of compliance requirements of OSHA standards or regulations, refer to Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
You may call the U.S. Department of Labor at (800) 321-6742 for confidential assistance if you are currently working at a company that is improperly handling or coming into contact with asbestos or otherwise violating your workers’ rights to asbestos-related safety.