Safe handling of asbestos

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The presentation „Safe handling of asbestos” will start with a brief overview of the material properties and the hazard potential of asbestos as well as the history of the asbestos usage. Based on the scientific and historical background, the development from the “miracle fibre” to the carcinogenic hazardous substance is explained. In this context, reference is also made to the sociological-demographic aspect of the topic: the mass use of asbestos began with the industrial revolution, driven first by the armaments industry (shipbuilding) and later by the construction sector. Though early known as a hazardous material, consequences for occupational health and safety were not drawn until the strategic importance in the war economy diminished. At the same time, the life expectancy of (industrial) workers increased and therefore, asbestos-related illnesses appeared massively.

Following, the different uses of asbestos and the resulting challenges in handling these materials are presented. Here, the well-known products are outlined briefly, a focus is placed on the so-called new asbestos materials (plasters, fillers, etc.) or the “non-targeted handling” with asbestos. The latter includes e.g. activities involving materials in which asbestos is not necessarily contained in the manufacturing process, but which may contain asbestos because of processing and contamination. On this basis, the low-emission methods developed in Germany according to the TRGS 519 are presented exemplarily. Applications for admission of these working methods are examined by the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the DGUV (IFA), published in the DGUV Information 201-012 and thus made available to users.

Contribution to PEROSH Research Conference 2019.

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