As we’ve previously covered, roofing is one of the most dangerous occupations in America. Hazards can appear in many forms on the jobsite. One of the least thought of hazards happens to also be one of the most dangerous. Asbestos is a carcinogen that can wreak havoc if it finds its way into the human body, and it was widely used in roofing materials for many years.
Due to being durable, light-weight, fire-resistant, and inexpensive, asbestos roofing materials were widely used in the United States in the early 1900s. This mineral does not usually pose a threat unless it is disturbed and sent airborne. Once airborne, it becomes a dangerous hazard that can be inhaled or ingested. In 1989 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finally outlawed the use of asbestos. However, many roofs today are still made up of asbestos containing shingles and materials that have yet to be removed.
In this two-part article, a roofing lawyer in Texas will discuss the basic safe practices for working with asbestos on a roofing jobsite. These practices should be employed if there is a potential of encountering asbestos on the jobsite.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that protective clothing be worn when a worker is likely to be exposed to asbestos. This disposable protective covering should completely cover the wearer’s body and regular clothing. Protective clothing should be made out of a material that does not allow asbestos to pass through and contaminate the wearer. Once finished, this protective clothing should be properly removed and disposed of.
OSHA also requires the use of respirators when there is asbestos exposure or likely asbestos exposure. Disposable dust masks are in no way suitable. Even if asbestos exposure is unlikely on a roofing site, respirators should still be available, and workers should be trained in their use. The complete OSHA guidelines for respirator use can be found here.
For more information on safe practices for working with asbestos, please read part two.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.