Dealing safely with asbestos can significantly hike construction costs but it’s a price worth paying to avoid risks to life and business, says Build18 site safety expert Darren Donaghy.
The Donegal-based health and safety professional from Donaghy Safety Training has appealed to builders and developers to ensure the required precautions are taken when dealing with the cancer-causing material.
Mr Donaghy, whose health and safety business takes him all over the island of Ireland, says dealing with asbestos safely “may be a big price to pay but it is a necessary one as well as a legal obligation”.
He added: “It takes a tiny amount of Asbestos in the air to do damage. So it’s vital that extra care is taken in accordance with the regulations when working where asbestos is present.
“It’s important to note that asbestos is harmless if undisturbed. The real dangers arise when it is disturbed and it is vital that those renovating or demolishing buildings containing asbestos adhere to the strict legal requirements in order to avoid very serious risk to both lives and livelihoods.
“Under legislation, any building to undergo major refurbishment or complete demolition is required to have an asbestos survey to identify asbestos materials. Due to the potential cost of removing and disposing of asbestos surveys are also carried out prior to the purchase or sale of buildings,” he added.
Asbestos is the collective name for naturally occurring minerals found in rock, it is not just one mineral there are six types, although only two have had any real commercial value in Ireland: Amosite and Chrysotile, with Chrysotile being the most common form used in the construction industry here.
Mr Donaghy explained: “Asbestos has been in use since the 1800s but it was most prevalent in construction between 1950 and 1980. It was widely used because of its tensile strength and insulation properties.
“It’s import and use was banned in Ireland in 1999 but it is still present in many commercial and residential buildings in use today.”
Places to look out for asbestos:
Fibrous pipe lagging; Artex plaster products; Concrete water tanks; Sanitary ware, particularly toilet cisterns manufactured during the 1960s and 70s; Vinyl floor tiles; Electrical insulation; Fire insulation products pre 1999; Concrete roofing products