According to the American Cancer Society, there is no certain way to prevent mesothelioma. However, avoiding asbestos exposure is the best method of prevention.
In the past, asbestos was a naturally occurring mineral used in various construction materials and products. Due to its durability and resistance to heat and chemical damage, asbestos was an ideal material for many applications. However, asbestos fibers can cause serious health problems, including mesothelioma.
When industrial workers bring home deadly asbestos fibers on their clothes, shoes, hair, and tools, family members become victims of second-hand exposure. Read on to explore ways to reduce the risks of developing mesothelioma.
Workplaces more prone to exposing their workers to asbestos
In the past, many industries used asbestos-containing products. Workers at a greater risk of asbestos exposure and getting a mesothelioma diagnosis include shipyard workers, construction workers, power plant workers, boiler workers, railroad and automotive workers, etc. Workers can also inhale asbestos fibers by renovating or dismantling old structures built with asbestos-containing construction and insulation material. This activity can destabilize the loosely held asbestos fibers, exposing the workers to them.
Is it possible to prevent malignant mesothelioma?
Though not everyone exposed to asbestos reports malignant mesothelioma, frequent contact and exposure to this material are directly proportional to a higher chance of cancer. To reduce the risk of mesothelioma, workers from various industries must be aware of its detrimental effects and ways to avoid the exposure.
As they say, “prevention is better than treatment,” here are some ways to reduce the risk of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma.
All the industrial workers exposed to the risk of asbestos exposure must have proper training about handling such products. They must understand their work requirements before signing up for it and know about all the risk factors involved. The neglect of these workers can prove fatal in the form of a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Adhere to safety guidelines
The occupational Safety and Health Administration have laid out safety guidelines for workers working in high-risk industries. All the workers must respect these guidelines to keep their exposure to asbestos at a minimum.
There are guidelines for the management too. Currently, OSHA requires employers to test air quality at their workplace frequently. Employers must keep asbestos levels below 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter in the air.
Don’t linger unnecessarily in the work area
In case of any health concern, workers must stop the work immediately and talk to their supervisor. The workers must not stay at the work site for more than the required time. They must avoid eating, drinking, or sleeping at the workplace. Moreover, smoking must be strictly prohibited too. Though smoking is not directly related to mesothelioma, some studies establish that smoking and asbestos exposure increases the risk.
Use of personal protective equipment
The employer should provide all the needed equipment to the workers for safely carrying out their work. On the other hand, the workers must wear the mandatory personal protective equipment, such as gloves, eye protection, face masks, shields, etc.
Asbestos does not pose a substantial health risk when it is intact in its position. But once disintegrated and displaced from its place, it becomes a health hazard. Therefore, never cut, saw, drill or scarp the structures without donning your protective equipment, lest it will disturb the asbestos fibers.
Additionally, ensure the equipment is clean with no holes or tears to provide an inlet for the fibers. Also, when you go home, don’t take your used clothes and PPE along as they may have asbestos fibers stuck to them.
Don’t sweep up dust and debris with a broom
At the end of the workday, make sure the workplace is clean. However, don’t sweep the dust with a broom as it can spread the asbestos fibers into the air, finding their way into your lungs during inhalation. Instead, use a vacuum cleaner to clean the area. But use a wet/shop vacuum with a HEPA filter to sweep and mop the floors. Later, safely throw away the dust and debris to avoid spreading the fibers.
Know what kind of work you can carry out with risky products
Contractors working in the industry already have an idea about the products containing asbestos. Therefore, they should avoid using such products in the first place. Nevertheless, suppose these products’ use is indispensable. In that case, contractors must know the type of work they can safely carry out with such products.
Explain the health hazards to your employees
There is much more awareness about asbestos exposure and mesothelioma compared to the past. However, many employers still do not discuss the health hazards of their workplace with workers. The result does not favor either party, whether it is out of sheer negligence, utter cruelty, or fear of not finding a labor force to work on such sites. Therefore, it is the moral and professional duty of the employers to explain the health hazards involved in the proposed work. This way, workers can be more vigilant and adhere to safety guidelines religiously.
Can better planning in the workplace reduce the risk of mesothelioma?
Better planning can make risky worksites safer for the workers and the management. The management must prioritize working with materials that do not contain asbestos. However, when working with harmful products, clearly stipulate the guidelines and display some flex sheets detailing the risk and preventive measures on the worksite.
Ensure all workers consent to working with asbestos-containing products. Strictly enforce the use of PPE. Moreover, hire a licensed contractor aware of the workplace hazards to keep the workplace and the workers safe.
The use of asbestos-containing must be avoided or kept to the minimum to prevent the risk of mesothelioma. However, if you are working in such an environment, pay attention to changes in your physical health. Don’t take matters like chest pain, persistent cough, and shortness of breath lightly, and communicate about your asbestos exposure to your doctor. Always maintain a healthy diet and take all the precautionary measures at the workplace, such as using PPEs to avoid asbestos inhalation. Remember, avoiding asbestos exposure is the only way to reduce the risk of mesothelioma.