MIOSHA to Host Symposium on Asbestos Hazards, Protection

The MIOSHA Asbestos Program is sponsoring a day-long symposium May 6 titled, "Michigan Asbestos Symposium for Trainers/Contractors." The symposium will provide the latest program information on a wide range of asbestos issues. Both MIOSHA and Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) staff will provide the training.

Many cities throughout Michigan are using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to demolish vacant and deteriorating housing and other structures to improve city environments. Many cities/companies are unaware that MIOSHA asbestos standards require an asbestos building survey in buildings constructed prior to 1981, noted MIOSHA.

Construction trades routinely renovate and demolish buildings and, consequently asbestos may be disturbed, causing asbestos fibers to become airborne. Not only does this expose construction employees and the general public to significant health hazards, but it also potentially exposes the companies involved to substantial legal liabilities. Past experience indicates that much of the exposure is linked to workers who unknowingly remove or disturb asbestos-containing materials.

"Employers have a legal responsibility to protect their workers and the general public from the hazards associated with the improper removal and/or disturbance of asbestos," said MIOSHA Director Doug Kalinowski. "MIOSHA rules require the controlling authority of a demolition/renovation project to obtain and review a building survey prior to conducting any asbestos-related work activity."

The Asbestos for General Industry Standard (Part 305) requires an asbestos building survey at all worksite areas where asbestos may be contacted. The Asbestos Standards for Construction (Part 602) requires a survey of the worksite before construction work subject to the standard begins. It is the employer's responsibility to obtain and review the building survey prior to conducting any work activities that may involve contact and/or disturbance of asbestos-containing material.

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that has been used in more than 3,000 different products over the last 100 years for its insulating, acoustical, and fire protective properties. Common products that contain asbestos are pipe insulation, floor and ceiling tile, spray-on fireproofing, and boiler wrap insulation.

Improper removal and/or disturbance of asbestos can cause asbestos fibers to become airborne. Inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers can cause:

  • Lung cancer
  • A lung disease known as "asbestosis"
  • Mesothelioma, a cancer of the chest and abdominal cavities

For more information about the symposium, visit http://www.michigan.gov/dleg/0,1607,7-154-10573_11472-236176--,00.html.

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