Asbestos-chrysotile, crocidolite or amosite in natural fibrous silicate forms – is a white, blue or grey-brown substance (available from 1880). It is a cheaper man-made mineral fiber used for many products. Its main uses are in asbestos-cement products as roofing sheets, pipes, and wallboards.
Asbestos dust causes lung damage. Fibrosis of the lung by asbestos was first described with PM report by Montague Murray in 1899. The name asbestosis was given by Cooke in 1927.
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Control of airborne contamination becomes difficult and costly. Therefore effective enclosures to the source of generation and local exhaust ventilation on the machine, wetting of fibers before mixing, spinning and weaving, vacuum-cleaning instead of brushes and changing of clothing at the end of work are the best controls. Dust masks are also essential.
Asbestos dust is a confirmed human carcinogen and its STEL/CEILJNG values published by ACGIH are as under :
|Chrysolite and other forms||2.0 fibre/cc|
The 2nd Sch. of the Factories Act gives this value as 2 fibers/ml (length 5 nm (nanometer) and breadth 3)Lim as respirable dust).
Asbestosis is an occupational disease specified in the 3rd Schedule of the Factories Act.
Summary of Schedule 17, rule 102, GFR i.e. Gujarat Factories Rules, Sch.17 u/r 114, MFR i.e. Maharashtra Factories Rules and Sch.20 u/r 95 of the TNFR i.e. Tamil Nadu Factories Rules is as under:
This schedule is applicable to the process of asbestos in any form of making insulation slab or mattresses, textiles, cardboard, paper, cement goods consisting of asbestos or spraying asbestos or cleaning asbestos dust.
Definitions: Asbestos is a fibrous silicate mineral and any admixture of silica known by different names. Its dust means airborne particles. Respirable asbestos fibers mean those having a diameter less than 3 mm and a length to diameter ratio greater than 3:1. Other terms are also defined.
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Tools and Equipment:
They should not create asbestos dust above the permissible limit or they should be equipped with efficient exhaust draught.
Processes of tools releasing asbestos dust beyond the permissible limit, use of crocidolite, spraying of asbestos and installation of friable asbestos insulation materials are prohibited.
Employment of young persons and smoking is also prohibited.
Asbestos shall be used only when its risk can be prevented or controlled, otherwise, it shall be replaced by other less harmful or harmless material or technology.
A number of persons exposed to asbestos and their exposure time shall be kept minimum. Their work area shall be ‘demarcated by warning signs restricting unauthorized access.
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An efficient exhaust draught shall be provided and maintained to control dust from the process and machine. Dust coming from the exhaust apparatus shall be collected by filter bags or suitable receptacles and shall not be drawn free into the air of any workroom.
Testing of Ventilation System:
A responsible person shall inspect the system every week. A competent person shall test it every year. Defects found shall be rectified forthwith. The test report shall be in form No. 26-A.
Dust creating workplaces shall be segregated from other workplaces to avoid exposure to other workers.
Breathing Apparatus & Protective Clothing:
An approved type of breathing apparatus and protective clothing shall be given to workers, for working in the chamber or cleaning dust or filling, beating or other operation where it is not possible to keep the dust within the permissible limit. Separate accommodation shall be provided to put on or take off such apparatus and clothing and to store when not in use.
All protective clothing shall be deducted under an efficient exhaust draught or by vacuum cleaning and shall be washed at suitable intervals. The cleaning schedule and procedure shall be established to ensure the efficiency of protection.
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They shall be cleaned and disinfected at suitable intervals and inspected every month by a responsible person.
A record of cleaning and maintenance shall be maintained. Full instruction shall be given to the user before employing it in such work. No apparatus worn by a person shall be worn by another person unless it has been thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and full instruction is given to that person.
Separate accommodation other than that for breathing apparatus shall be provided to store other personal protective equipment or personal clothing.
Washing and Bathing Facilities:
Washing places shall be provided at the rate of I for 15 persons. Standpipe separation shall be more than a meter. Constant water, clean towels, soap, and nail brushes shall be provided. Washing (bathing time of 30 minutes within working hours) shall be provided at the end of the shift.
A suitable mess room with tables, benches (with backrest) and means to warm food shall be placed under the charge of a responsible person and be kept clean.
Cautionary notices regarding (i) Health hazards from asbestos dust (ii) Need to use the appropriate equipment and (iii) Entry of authorized persons with protective equipment or no entry shall be displayed.
The container of asbestos or its products shall be labeled with a warning of dust hazard and its safety measures. MSDS shall be supplied to consumers.
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Information regarding the health hazards of the home carrying contaminated clothing shall be given to the families of the workers.
The monitoring of asbestos fiber in the air shall be carried out once in every shift. The time-weighted average concentration shall be calculated or measured by Membrane Filter Technique (MFT). Records shall be preserved for thirty years.
Medical Tests and Records:
- A doctor shall be employed with the approval of the CIF*. Medical facilities shall be provided to him.
- The CS** will examine a new worker within 15 days of his first employment. This will include pulmonary function tests, tests to detect asbestos fibers in sputum and chest X-rays. No worker shall be employed without the Fitness Certificate in Form No. 27 A by the CS.
- Periodical tests every year by the CS.
- Health Register in Form No. 20 to be signed by the CS. Reasons of unfitness shall be recorded in it. Re-employment in the same process is possible with a Fitness Certificate from the CS.
- Post Medical Examination shall also be carried out. No cost to the workers. Results shall not be used to discriminate against the worker. Workers will be informed about the test results. If health is impaired due to long-time exposure, the worker shall be compensated to maintain his income.
- Records of Medical Examinations shall be preserved for 30 years. On the closure of the factory, the records shall be deposited to the Office of the GIF.
* CIF = Chief Inspector of Factories
** CS == Certifying Surgeon
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- Loose asbestos, while not in use, shall be kept in closed receptacles.
- A sack containing asbestos shall not be cleaned by hand beating but by a safe machine.
- Disposal of waste should not pose a health hazard to workers or the public in the vicinity.
- All floors, workbenches, machinery, and plant shall be kept clean and free from asbestos dust. Vacuum cleaning equipment shall be used, otherwise, respirators will be given to the cleaners. The cleaning apparatus shall also be cleaned for asbestos waste and dust.
IS: Safety and health requirements relating to exposure to asbestos 11451, Asbestos dust control 11770, cleaning premises 11767, airborne concentration 11450, chrysotile 9690, 11276, 11267, Manufacturing premises – exhaust ventilation system 12080, packaging, transport & storage 12079, personal protection of workers 12078, products safe use 11769, terminology 11707, workplace pictorial warning 12081, products 5913, control recommendation 12082, corrugated sheets 459, 13008, asbestos fiber 2712, 11275, 9745, yarn 13362.