We all know the dangers of Asbestos found in old building and roofs, but did you know Asbestos can be found in natural materials too?
Asbestos is actually a naturally occurring, fibrous mineral that can be found in some types of marble and other stone. Breathing in air containing asbestos fibres is associated with various health issues including cancers of the lungs and chest lining.
When Asbestos is found in marble or other stone products, this is not necessarily an immediate risk to health as the Asbestos will be securely fixed in the stone. However, fibres could be released when the stone is worked e.g. drilled, cut, sanded etc or if it is damaged. It is important that those affected are aware of the possible risks and the precautions to take.
The HSE recently published a new leaflet “AM1: Asbestos in some types of marble and other stone: assessing the risk” which explains the risks, how to identify whether asbestos is present and the precautions that should be taken. This can be downloaded from the HSE website at: https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/am1.htm
Just because stone does not contain Asbestos or only contains it in trace levels, does not mean that it can be worked without taking precautions. Dust from working stone, in particular respirable crystalline silica, can still be harmful to health and it is important that suitable precautions e.g. dust suppression methods, are put in place to control the risks.
Please speak to your normal PIB Risk Management contact or get in touch using email@example.com if you have any questions about the control of substances hazardous to health in your workplace.