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Respiratory protection required for asbestos removal

Asbestos can pose a serious disease risk to workers unless tightly controlled conditions are enforced, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said.

Fibres from materials constructed using asbestos can cause a number of serious diseases - including cancer and scarring of the lungs - and untrained workers should not attempt to remove it from buildings.

Helena Tinton, an HSE inspector, says: "Work with materials containing higher risk asbestos, including asbestos insulation board, is a licensed activity with work only carried out by trained people under tightly controlled conditions."

The HSE says that asbestos workers must use respiratory protection, including a suitable face mask, in order to prevent them from inhaling the substance.

As asbestos is removed from a site, it must be cleaned up, double-bagged and then disposed of at a licensed tip.

After exposure to asbestos, workers must wash off before they leave the site and should not take their overalls home.

Asbestos can easily be disturbed, so the use of power tools and sweeping should be avoided.

Furthermore, disposable personal protective equipment should not be re-used and workers should avoid smoking, eating or drinking in the workplace.

It is the employer's responsibility to oversee this work.

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