November is Lung cancer Awareness Month, so this is the perfect time to do an employee HAZMAT/asbestos screening. If your workers could potentially be exposed to hazardous materials you know that according to OSHA guidelines you need to test employees prior to exposure. It is a good idea to have your employees tested at least once a year so that your company can keep accurate information on employees.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a general term for a group of minerals that naturally occur in the environment. They are resistant to heat, fire and chemicals, nor do they conduct electricity so asbestos is used widely in many industries like construction.
The Importance of Asbestos Testing
Exposure to asbestos can cause more than just lung cancer, it has a definite association with pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, gastrointestinal cancer, and asbestosis which is a disabling fibrotic lung disease. Exposure has been linked to many types of cancer as well. If you or any of your workers have vague feelings of sickness, fatigue, coughing or shortness of breath, get asbestos testing immediately.
What the Test Entails
The screening will require tests for anything that could could be affected by asbestos or other hazardous materials.
- Medical consultation/questionnaire
- Blood pressure
- Lung function/respiratory testing
- Hearing testing (audiogram)
- Vision testing
How Workers Can Protect Themselves
Every employee needs to make sure they are complying with the OSHA regulations established for dealing with asbestos exposure. Workers need to use all the protective equipment provided by employers, especially National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-approved respirators that fit correctly. In general, be alert, don’t smoke and make sure to get to a doctor if any symptoms begin to present.