Chrysotile, Amosite and Crocidolite
Asbestos is the name of a group of natural occurring mineral fibres which are strong and are resistant to heat and chemicals. Due to these properties, asbestos was commonly used in the past as insulation and fire proofing.
Asbestos was also used in the manufacture of other building materials. Three types of asbestos are commonly found in Ireland – chrysotile (white asbestos), amosite (brown asbestos) and crocidolite (blue asbestos).
When the fibres of Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) are released into the air there is a risk that they may be inhaled. Breathing in air containing asbestos fibres can lead to asbestos-related diseases (mainly cancers of the chest and lungs). These diseases do not occur immediately and can take from 15 – 60 years to develop. Where Asbestos is in good condition and there is no disturbance or damage to the ACM, it will not pose a risk to health as fibres will not be released.
It is now prohibited to use, re-use, sell or supply asbestos or asbestos containing materials or products. However products or materials containing asbestos, which were already installed or in service prior to the prohibition, may remain in place until they are disposed of or reach the end of their service life. As a result, there is still potential for exposure to asbestos in a variety of workplaces due to the large quantities of asbestos and ACM’s which were used in buildings in the past.
Occupational health and safety legislation for working with asbestos
- The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Exposure to Asbestos) (Amendment) Regulation 2010 (S.I. No. 589/2010), amend Regulations 2, 10, 11, 15, 17, 25 and 26 of S.I. 289 of 2006. These Regulations give effect to Directive 2009/148/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work.
- The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Exposure to Asbestos) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 386 of 2006), aim to protect the health and safety of all employees who may be exposed to dust from asbestos containing materials, during the course of their work activities. The regulations apply to all work activities and workplaces where there is a risk of people inhaling asbestos dust
- The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 504 of 2006), are also of relevance with respect to the renovation, repair and demolition of older buildings where asbestos or ACM’s may have been used
- The REACH Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006 prohibits the placing on the market, the supply and use of asbestos fibres of all types and of products containing asbestos fibres. The restriction conditions for asbestos fibres can be found in entry no. 6 of Annex XVII of the REACH Regulation, recently amended by Regulation (EC) No. 552/2009
- The Chemicals (Asbestos Articles) Regulations 2011, which came into operation on 31 May, 2011, specify how the Health and Safety Authority may issue a certificate to exempt an asbestos-containing article, or category of such articles, from the prohibition on the placing on the market of an asbestos-containing article provided for by Article 67 and Annex XVII of the EU REACH Regulation 1907/2006.
- Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulation – CLP Regulation (EC) No.1272/2008. The ‘CLP’ Regulation introduces the United Nations globally harmonised system (UN GHS) for classification and labelling of chemicals into Europe.
Note: The above is not an exhaustive list of legislation, however other relevant legislation may apply.