Construction News: School Evacuated over Asbestos Scare

You know the asbestos crisis has gotten out of hand when it starts affecting schools as it did this week in Victoria. Timboon P-12 school’s future is in question after a number of students and teachers had to be evacuated after asbestos was discovered on the premises. The school had to be shut down and the gates locked so that students were not at risk of further exposure.

This is the last straw for desperate parents who are hoping that the government will now take action after 5 years of lobbying for $7 million to fix down the run down facilities.

According to an article on www.standard.net.au an independent report commissioned by the government has revealed that 57 per cent of the school buildings are in poor condition and at least 34 per cent need to be bulldozed.

WorkSafe Victoria did not have any information for parents as to how much asbestos was found or the risk it exposed their children to. Parents also do not know when their children will be allowed to return to school.

The post on Standard.net.au explained:

1“WorkSafe was called to Timboon P-12 School in relation to asbestos … it identified several safety concerns, including exposed asbestos and peeling paint that may be lead-based,” a spokeswoman said.

She was unable to say who had contacted WorkSafe with the concerns.

“A prohibition notice was issued, which prevents the school being used until all safety issues are addressed.”

The Education Depart-ment released a brief letter to parents through Timboon P-12 principal Rosalie Moorfield, saying that “WorkSafe visited our school to inspect the eaves of our toilet block, which were suspected to contain asbestos”.

“However, the inspector brought wider concerns to our attention and has issued a prohibition notice,” Ms Moorfield said.

Source: http://www.standard.net.au/story/1594269/asbestos-scare-shuts-down-timboon-p-12-school/?cs=72

According to reports an environmental assessor is now completing an overall review of the school and will release findings soon.

This incident is an example of how innocent lives can be affected by asbestos. Disturbing asbestos materials may generate airborne asbestos fibres. Asbestos is only dangerous if it becomes airborne and inhaled over a period of time, at which time it may contribute to life-threatening, incurable diseases such as Mesothelioma and Asbestosis some of which only reveal themselves years later. It’s frightening to think that innocent children may have been exposed to asbestos fibres and may suffer later on down the line.

With all the asbestos related incidents occurring in Oz as of late, it is important that builders and even the general public are aware of what to do if they are exposed.

If you have been exposed to asbestos, it is important to assess the amount of your exposure. If you were exposed only very briefly, or only at very low levels, your risk of a resulting disease is probably low. However, if you were exposed at high levels or for long periods of time, you may be at increased risk of certain cancers or the other diseases and need to seek medical attention. Smoking may make the consequences of asbestos exposure worse, so quit immediately. Speak to a medical health professional as you may have to go in for regular check-ups because asbestos related diseases take so long to reveal themselves.

Also inform your doctor if you start to have symptoms that might be related to asbestos exposure such as shortness of breath, a new or worsening cough, pain or tightness in the chest, trouble swallowing, or unintended weight loss. See your doctor as soon as possible for any respiratory illness.

 

White Card Update: Home Renovation Boom May Increase Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos has long been a concern for building renovators and now the Ombudsman in Queensland has expressed concern about the problem. The Ombudsman has suggested to the State government that they deal with asbestos related problems by setting up a special department devoted to tackling the issue.

An increase in asbestos related diseases is expected to coincide with a boom in home renovations in the state of Queensland. Perhaps the most concerning part about asbestos is that the diseases it causes are incurable and the main one Mesothelioma is expected to peak in upcoming years.

Workers in the construction industry are particularly vulnerable to asbestos related diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer especially those involved in renovation work on old buildings or rebuilds on older sites where asbestos could be lying dormant. When disturbed by renovation work these fibres are released into the air to be inhaled or ingested by workers or anyone who enters the site. There is now a concern that the general public, not experienced construction workers may be exposed to life threatening asbestos fibres, without knowing the proper precautions to take to protect themselves.

The report also noted that as home renovations increase in the near future it is likely that cases of mesothelioma from non-occupational exposure from home renovations are also expected.

A report has been presented in parliament which detailed the asbestos threat of buildings constructed before 1990. Although people are aware of asbestos and its danger, they are not sure about how to handle the situation if they discover asbestos while renovating and there is no coordination to facilitate uniformity in dealing with the substance.

A special department would help assist the public with the problem by getting the word out and developing uniform procedures for dealing with the discovery of asbestos.

Read this post from SafetyCulture.com.au that explains further:

asbestosThe Ombudsman in Queensland recently recommended that a new department be set up by the State government to deal with the problems that are related to asbestos.

This call is on the back of an anticipated increase in asbestos related diseases because of the boom in the states home renovations.

A report that was presented in State Parliament yesterday that buildings that were constructed prior to 1990 in Queensland may actually contain asbestos but that there is a lack of understanding about the best way to deal with it and no central coordination.

It takes between 10 and 40 years for asbestos related diseases to develop and in 2010 asbestos related diseases were responsible for 640 deaths in Australia.

The report said that the incidents of mesothelioma are anticipated to peak between 2013 and 2021.

Source: http://www.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/03/concern-that-home-renovation-boom-will-increase-incidence-of-mesothelioma/

 

Lifelong Consequences of Asbestos on Construction Workers

Few contaminants present such a long extended risk as asbestos does meaning that the effects of asbestos exposure can affect a person long after they have been exposed.

Workers engaged in renovation and rebuilding construction work are at risk of inhaling, ingesting or absorbing deadly asbestos fibres which although toxic to the human body, were used in the past to make building materials more durable and longer lasting.

Significant exposure to any type of asbestos will increase the risk of developing serious, life threatening illnesses such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and non-malignant lung and pleural disorders, including asbestosis, pleural plaques, pleural thickening, and pleural effusions.

Chronic exposure to asbestos may increase the risk of lung cancer, mesothelioma, and non-malignant lung and pleural disorders.

Most of the cases of asbestos related diseases in Oz are associated with occupational exposure. Workers in the construction industry are some of the most at risk because of the use of asbestos in building materials prior to its banning a few decades ago.

However there may still be some sites where asbestos containing building materials are lying dormant and when damaged during renovations or rebuilding these asbestos fibres are released into the air to enter the lungs of workers or anyone in the area.

Asbestos has now been banned from further use, however it was expansively used in the construction and composition of fire doors due to its excellent fire resistant properties. Caution should always be used when cutting into or working with old fire doors in buildings as these may be constructed of asbestos containing material.If the asbestos containing materials are in good condition it can remain in place but should be labelled to alert people to its presence and the hazard presented.

Diseases from asbestos exposure usually take a long time to develop but it is not worth risking it. Workers who are both smokers and exposed to asbestos are even more at risk of developing lung cancer than non-smokers do.

Often the worst part about exposure to asbestos is that it only reveals itself years later. The time between diagnosis of mesothelioma (the most common asbestos caused disease which is also lethal) and the time of initial occupational exposure to asbestos has been up to 3 decades.

When asbestos fibres are released into the air and inhaled, most fibres are expelled, but some become lodged in the lungs and remain there throughout life to affect the person later in life. Fibres can accumulate and cause scarring and inflammation in the lungs which then affects breathing and causes disease.

People are more likely to experience asbestos-related disorders when they are exposed to high concentrations of asbestos or are exposed for longer periods of time which is why identifying and removing asbestos from construction sites prior to work beginning is so important to protect workers safety.

Exposure to asbestos can increase the likelihood of lung cancer, mesothelioma, and non-malignant lung conditions such as asbestosis for which there is no cure.