Even after being rightly outlawed in the UK in 2000, asbestos is still discovered on business premises and public buildings which predate the ban. For those working in the construction industry, asbestos poses a very serious health risk, and it is illegal for anyone to tamper with it if they do discover any.
Exposure to asbestos can be fatal; inhaling the fibres can cause serious and fatal illnesses including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.
Although asbestos was used for centuries – revered for its endless beneficial properties; sound absorption, affordability, tensile strength and resistance to heat, fire and electricity – the discovery in the 20th Century of the myriad of health risks involved would lead to its ultimate outlawing a century later.
Lift installation companies working on older buildings are trained to be able to identify asbestos, yet with most buildings pre-dating the year 2000 undergoing a full asbestos survey, lift shafts and motor rooms can still be overlooked.
The Risks of Asbestos
It is when the asbestos fibres become airborne that the material poses a serious health risk. This can happen if the material is cut, drilled in to, or broken apart. If a worker was to inhale these fibres regularly, even small amounts can prove fatal.
Asbestos and Lifts
Asbestos was used heavily in the construction of lifts pre-2000 due to its fire and heat resistant properties. It is most commonly found in the control rooms, on the back of the landing car, within car doors, brake linings and on flash guards. If asbestos is found on an elevator system then large fines can be issued to site owners, especially if they fail to carry out an asbestos inspection before hiring anyone to perform construction.
Construction, Design and Management (CDM) regulations stipulate that facilities managers or lift owners must carry out an Asbestos Survey before any contract is tendered and work begins. If asbestos is detected, they need to provide and Asbestos Register to any lift installers or lift maintenance companies, indicating where any asbestos is present.