Asbestos History And Facts

If you think that the new regulations concerning asbestos is just yet more government interference, think again.

The “asbestos problem” has been with us for many years even though the deadline for compliance with the then “Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations” was only set as May 2004, the regulations themselves came into effect in November 2002, after years of planning and consultation.

Just for the sake of it, we’ve added some information here that will hopefully go some way to helping you understand just how big a problem asbestos really is and why these regulations came about.

Manufacture Of Asbestos Began In 1880

Turner Brothers began manufacturing asbestos in 1880, employing five people. By 1900, fifty people were employed. By 1910, that number had grown to three hundred.

By the inter-war period, the company (then known as Turner & Newall), became a Top 100 UK company with annual profits exceeding £1million.

The First Case Of Asbestosis Was Recorded 1899.

It wasn’t called Asbestosis then of course, because the term wasn’t known.

The victim was a 33 year old man admitted to Charing Cross Hospital, London who had worked with asbestos for 14 years. A post mortem revealed that his lungs were stiff & black, caused by inhaling asbestos dust.

Asbestos Fibres Cause The Biggest Risk To Health

Although people refer to asbestos dust, the real term should be asbestos fibres, since asbestos is fibrous by nature.

One asbestos fibre, the diameter of a human hair, comprises a bundle of approximately two million microscopic fibres.

One cubic inch of asbestos contains 15 million miles of fibres.

Breaking an asbestos insulation board would release tens of millions of fibres into the air instantly. They are microscopic and would not be seen.

Asbestosis Identified

The word “Asbestosis” was first used in 1927. It’s been with us for more than seventy years, but the government first knew of the dangers of asbestos in 1898 when the Chief Inspector of Factories & Workshops drew attention to the “evil effects” of asbestos manufacture because of it’s “easily demonstrated dangers to the worker”.

First Asbestos Regulations – 1931

The first report on the asbestos industry was carried out by ERA Merryweather and CW Price who found that after working in the asbestos industry for 20 years, four out of five workers had asbestosis.

Legislation followed a year later in 1931 when The Asbestos Industry Regulations were introduced to control the dust.

Many people think that asbestos regulations are a waste of time and are simply another case of government interference. Unfortunately, that attitude has cost many lives and with asbestos deaths increasing even now (and predicted to continue increasing), it is vitally important that asbestos within the workplace is controlled.

In 2004, The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations were introduced to offer protection to workers and visitors to commercial premises. This involved the creation and maintenance of an asbestos register which clearly identified possible asbestos containing materials within the fabric of the building, in an attempt to reduce the risk of accidental exposure.

The regulations have subsequently been revised and are now called, “Control of Asbestos Regulations” which have the same aims of the 2004 regulations, but have been made a little more “user friendly.”

For advice on asbestos in your commercial premises, please call 0121 711 7110 and speak to one of our friendly asbestos surveyors.