Finding lethal asbestos in a workplace setting has become a common occurrence in the United States and elsewhere in the world. Building products laced with the natural fireproofing mineral were widely used in the 20th century and constitute much of the infrastructure of old buildings.
Discovery of the cancer-causing substance at a business often proves disruptive and sometimes even disastrous, not to mention costly.
Furthermore, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires companies to protect their workers and provide a safe work environment. This includes proactivity when it comes to killer asbestos, which claims almost 40,000 lives each year.
Now, one organization seeks to alleviate some of the misery associated with the revelation that asbestos contamination might be present at a company.
WorkSafe New Zealand offers an Asbestos Management Plan Template free and downloadable on its website.
The template provides well-organized and comprehensive instructions on what to do before, during, and after asbestos discovery. The ready-made plan offers businesses step-by-step instructions to keep employees safe, minimize costs, and alleviate company downtime.
How to Use the Asbestos Management Plan
The fill-in customizable plan first calls the business to name a person to lead asbestos management.
That same person, or another in the business, signs off on preparing and approving the plan once it is completed. This assigns specific duties and leadership to one or two people in the organization to take responsibility for all asbestos issues.
Secondly, the template requires the identification of all asbestos or asbestos-containing materials in any buildings owned and used by the company.
WorkSafe urges companies to call in a professional asbestos contractor if there is uncertainty about which materials contain asbestos. The template suggests including photos, drawings, or site plans to indicate exact locations of asbestos presence.
The handy template provides a fillable spreadsheet to list each area and item that contains asbestos.
The template also allows businesses to notate:
- What kind of asbestos is present
- What is the volume of asbestos
- Is it friable (loose) or contained
- How the risk of exposure will be managed
- Why that method was chosen for management
- The timeframe in which removal will be executed
- How the asbestos was identified
Another section of the plan requires the development of a protocol to alert employees who either have been assigned to work in an area with asbestos or who have possibly been exposed to the substance.
This forces management to be intentional about employee safety, requiring them to communicate about conditions that involve the carcinogenic material.
How the New Tool Aims to Reduce Asbestos-Related Deaths
The template also calls for businesses to develop response procedures for asbestos emergencies rather than just reacting in the moment of crisis without a predetermined plan.
Additionally, guidelines for recording details of incidents or emergencies involving the toxic substance are included.
The last three sections are geared toward employees and include:
- Information and training
- Employee roles and responsibilities
- Continued health monitoring for employees
WorkSafe Head of Health and Technical Services, Catherine Epps, says her organization developed the template with the help of businesses that provided feedback and information on asbestos management.
The hope is businesses will utilize the template and, therefore, reduce asbestos exposure among workers. The goal is to lower incidents of asbestos-related deaths by 50% by the year 2040.
“The hazardous product is still found in many buildings and structures, but with good information, businesses can make robust decisions to protect workers and others who might be at risk,” said Epps.