Asbestos: What Is It and How Does It Impact California Worksites?
For years, asbestos was used as a form of insulation and in homes, and it was a key component of many materials utilized throughout buildings. Asbestos fibers could be found in roofing shingles, floor tiles and ceiling materials, as it was strong and efficient. Furthermore, it was resistant to heat, making it ideal in residential structures.
Today, we know that asbestos is a hazard to our health. The product is widely avoided in construction, and the removal of asbestos can only be conducted by professionals.
What is Asbestos and Why is it Hazardous?
Asbestos actually refers to a set of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals — chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite. Chysotile and amosite are the most common, according to the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.
Health experts deemed asbestos as a carcinogen around the 1970s, and it was banned in textured paint and patching compounds in 1977, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. However, this doesn’t mean that it asbestos isn’t in buildings today. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find the material in houses made between 1930 and 1950, which is when it was frequently used in insulation.
Lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis are three major conditions that can be linked to asbestos. Over time, these ailments can cause coughing, chest pain and difficulty breathing.
Asbestos in California
Today, construction workers try to avoid exposure to asbestos, and they work to ensure that their structures are asbestos-free as well. Several states, including California, have set regulations to guide workers toward creating safe, healthy residential areas for homeowners.
For instance, Subchapter 4 of Construction Safety Orders established by California explain that exposure limits need to be set on construction sites. Additionally, exposure monitoring needs to be carried out for the safety of workers.
Subchapter 7 of General Industry Safety Orders set by California defines asbestos for industrial construction workers. It also states that exposure monitoring, permissible exposure limitations, and compliance programs need to be executed in sites where the chemical may exist.
These subchapters, as well as many others, can be found in Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations 1529. These also include specifications for shipyard workers.
Today, California abides by federal compliance guidelines created by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Under these regulations, workers must contact certified asbestos contractors to remove the material in the event that it needs to be removed from a site. These individuals are experts at not only eliminating asbestos, but ensuring it does not enter the working or living environment.
In addition to abiding by state and federal regulations, workers need to remember that they are obligated to notify individuals of the risks associated with asbestos sites. In the end, this keeps everyone safe who may be working on the job.
For all information on the California Health and Safety Code, as well as exact requirements pertaining to asbestos, visit www.dir.ca.gov for insight into the laws and regulations. Or just call our experts.