Mesothelioma is a preventable disease. That is why it is a tragedy whenever someone is diagnosed. Had the proper safety precautions been taken, chances are very good that the disease wouldn’t have occurred. The myriad of cases that are being seen now are a direct result of asbestos companies withholding information about the dangers of asbestos exposure and not giving employers or their employees the chance at prevention.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has developed a series of guidelines on how to prevent future mesothelioma cases from occurring. Follow these OSHA asbestos tips.
5 OSHA Asbestos Preventative Steps
Step 1 – Preparing the Work Area
OSHA suggests that all heating and cooling systems in the work area be disabled to prevent airborne asbestos from being vented out of the area. The power must be shut off and locked out and any ventilation ducts that reach into adjoining areas must be sealed with two layers of plastic. If there is an elevator in the area, the doorway should also be sealed off with two layers of plastic (this will prevent a loss of pressure in the work area). Any items that can be removed from the area should be thoroughly cleaned with water and a HEPA filtration unit and then removed.
If they cannot be cleaned they should be wrapped in plastic and disposed of as hazardous waste. Any items than cannot be removed should be wet down and cleaned with a HEPA vacuum and then covered in two layers of plastic to prevent recontamination.
Step 2 – Constructing an Enclosure
The work area needs to be completely sealed off from the outside. Any opening including windows, doors, vents, electrical outlets, water lines, drain pipes, or anywhere else that air could leak. All enclosures should be both air and water tight. Openings for entrances must be controlled by either an airlock or vestibule area. All walls, ceilings and floors that are not essential to the work process should be covered by 6 mm plastic sheeting.
Step 3 – Establishing Negative Pressure within the Enclosure
Negative pressure means that the work area must continually vent in clean air while sending all outgoing air through a HEPA filter. The system must run 24 hours a day. The volume of air removed from the work area must result in a complete cycle every 5 to 15 minutes. Airlocks must be in place between the work area and clean room and the clean room and the shower facility. Negative air pressure should be checked routinely with a smoke test and manometers or pressure gauges.
Step 4 – Monitoring Airborne Concentrations
The work area should be continually monitored for airborne concentrations of asbestos. Readings should be taken in various areas including near the filtration unit, in the clean room, and in the shower area. If the clean room shows contamination it must be immediately relocated to a new area.
Step 5 – Cleaning the Work Area
All surfaces within the work area should be continually kept free of dust as much as possible. When visible dust appears to accumulate the area should be wiped with a wet sponge or cloth and HEPA vacuumed. Waste should be placed in plastic bags clearly labeled for disposal and wet down. All materials must remain saturated until the container is sealed. Any items with sharp edges must be placed in hard, air-tight containers instead of flexible bags. Before the work area exhaust system is turned off, every surface in the work area must be wet down and HEPA vacuumed.
If you are working in a situation where these recommendations are not being followed, your employer may be liable for exposing you to asbestos. Our team at Bergman Draper Oslund has been helping victims of mesothelioma for decades. Call us today for a free case evaluation 888-647-6007.