White Card Update: Recap on Hazardous Substances

(Photo: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

One of the topics covered by the white card course is how to work in environments with potentially hazardous substances such as asbestos. On some occasions you will be aware of the possible presence of asbestos, for example if you are involved in a renovation on an old building site. On other occasions you or a co-worker may stumble upon on the presence of asbestos. In these situations it is vital that you learn how to safely react as to not endanger your health.

One of the biggest risks involved with asbestos exposure is the risk of developing Asbestosis, a terminal disease that is caused by inhaling asbestos fibres which can be released when working on old buildings. Asbestosis is when lungs become scarred causing airways to become inflamed and scarred, restricting the flow of oxygen to the lungs and into the blood. The lungs become stiff and inelastic, making breathing more difficult. Symptoms include tightness in the chest, dry cough, and in the later stages, a bluish tinge to the skin caused by lack of oxygen. Sadly it may take years or even decades before the symptoms of asbestosis become evident at which stage it is too late to attempt to treat, resulting in the death of many.