Asbestos in the Workplace

Asbestos, a once-popular construction material, poses significant health risks. Business owners and property managers must prioritise the safety of employees, customers, and visitors. 

The Hidden Dangers of Asbestos

Asbestos, commonly used for its fire resistance and insulation properties, is linked to severe health conditions like lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Its hazardous nature necessitated regulations to prevent exposure.

Working with Asbestos is now highly regulated and there could have been periods where people have worked with Asbestos in the past, prolonged exposure to asbestos can pose serious health risks. It’s crucial to be aware of the symptoms and associated health hazards. If you suspect asbestos exposure, seek medical attention promptly.

Here is a guide to symptoms of asbestos exposure:

Respiratory issues

  • Shortness of breath: Difficulty breathing or catching breath.
  • Persistent cough: A chronic cough that doesn’t improve.

Chest discomfort

  • Chest pain: Unexplained pain or tightness in the chest.
  • Tightness in the chest: Feeling pressure or constriction.

Respiratory disorders

  • Asbestosis: Scarring of lung tissue leading to reduced lung function.
  • Pleural effusion: Accumulation of fluid in the space around the lungs.

Digestive issues

  • Difficulty swallowing: Particularly in advanced stages.
  • Digestive problems: Nausea or loss of appetite.

Other symptoms

  • Fatigue: Unexplained and persistent tiredness.
  • Weight loss: Unintended weight loss.
  • Clubbed fingers or toes: Enlarged fingertips or toes.

What are the health risks associated with asbestos exposure?


Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that primarily affects the thin layer of tissue surrounding the lungs (pleura) but can also occur in the abdomen (peritoneum) or around the heart (pericardium). It is almost exclusively linked to asbestos exposure, with a latency period of 20-50 years.

Lung cancer

It is most commonly associated with smoking but what is less widely known is that it can also be caused by exposure to asbestos.  It is believed that lung cancer may be the UK’s biggest industrial killer but, because of the long established link with smoking, it is very often not recorded as having been caused or linked to exposure to asbestos.  


Asbestosis is a chronic lung condition resulting from the inhalation of asbestos fibres, leading to scarring of lung tissue. Over time, this scarring reduces lung function, causing persistent shortness of breath, coughing, and chest tightness.

Pleural Plaques

Pleural plaques involve the thickening and hardening of the pleura, the membrane lining the lungs and chest cavity. Although generally benign, pleural plaques indicate past asbestos exposure. Pleural effusion, on the other hand, involves the accumulation of fluid around the lungs, causing breathing difficulties. Both conditions contribute to the overall burden of asbestos-related health issues and underscore the need for vigilant monitoring and medical care.

So, how do you prevent exposure:

Workplace safety

  • Follow safety guidelines and always wear appropriate protective gear that is defined to protect you against Asbestos fibres.
  • Employ engineering controls to minimise airborne asbestos fibres.
  • Asbestos removal is a licensable job, which you should only use a competent contractor who is registered for asbestos removal.
  • Conduct Asbestos testing before any renovations or demolitions.


Stay informed about asbestos-containing materials in your environment.

Ensure you have an asbestos management plan and procedures in place, where you have identified asbestos on your site.

Contact us for further information or assistance.