Asbestos is a very disabling fibre when inhaled. Modern factories have very little or no asbestos, while older factories may have it in the form of roofing (cement asbestos), as insulating material or in the form of gaskets (excluding asbestos processing factories)
The first point all factory managers should do is to obtain an inventory of their asbestos / asbestos containing products on site (Reg. 7 (1) & (2)). If any work is to be carried out on the asbestos, the Provincial Director of the Department of Labour must be informed.
The people who will be involved with the removal of asbestos must be trained in respect of the Asbestos Regulations, the potential source of exposure, the potential health risks caused by exposure to asbestos, the measures taken by the employer to prevent an employee against any risk from exposure and the precautions to be taken by the employee to protect himself against exposer which include the wearing of the correct PPE. They must also be trained in the correct use and limitations of the PPE to be worn. Other aspect that need to be covered are housekeeping, safe working procedures, occupational exposure limits, procedures to be followed in the event of a spill as well as the reporting of the same (Reg. 5 (1))
The training needs to be given at least once a year by a competent person with adequate practical experience (Reg. 5 (2))
The persons being exposed to the asbestos have a duty to prevent the asbestos from becoming airborne, to wear their PPE, wearing of monitoring equipment if required to do so, report for medical surveillance as well as housekeeping (Reg. 6).
During any removal process air monitoring is required. All staff that may be exposed to any asbestos fibres need to undergo medical surveillance, which includes a pre-medical, regular medical examinations thereafter (at least once every 24 month or as determined by the medical practitioner) and an exit medical.
Any area where asbestos fibres may be present and exceeds the OEL shall be demarcated as a respirator zone (any demolition area should be regarded as a respirator zone).
The employer needs to ensure minimal exposure to asbestos. If a factory has asbestos sheets, the exposure to asbestos fibres can be reduced by painting the cement/asbestos sheets. Regular maintenance is also required. Housekeeping is essential (mentioned earlier).