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Tool Box Talk: Asbestos Awareness
As part of Lucion’s Take Care Be Aware initiative, we actively take care of our health and safety responsibilities, with continuous awareness of our commitments to knowledge share and educate.
In doing so we have created a ‘toolbox talk’ on asbestos awareness to raise awareness of the hazards associated with asbestos-containing materials, enabling safety professionals to share knowledge and overall save the time and effort in producing them for you and your teams.
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What is Gypsum?
Gypsum is a common, naturally occuring soft sulphate mineral that can be found in both crystal and rock form. Valued for its pliable qualities, sulphur content, and its non-toxic properties, gypsum has a diverse range of applications, including in building materials, most commonly plasterboard and plaster materials.
Gypsum plasterboard can be recycled to create new gypsum plasterboard creating a more environmentally friendly product and reduce wastage and landfill. In order to recycle the plasterboard, the board needs to be broken down into a powder format and then tested for potential hazardous material contamination including asbestos, before it is handed over to the manufacturer. Gypsum based plasterboard can become contaminated with asbestos fibres during its lifetime before being recycled due to its installation into buildings that have utilised asbestos containing materials in their construction.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have highlighted dangers when working with gypsum based plasterboard where gypsum dust may be emitted into the air and inhaled by workers. With effective control measures in place, the dangers can be minimised to reasonably practicable levels.
What is Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)?
Scanning Electron Microscopy is a more powerful way of analysing hazardous material samples. Analysis through using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) enables magnification of samples of up to 200,000x, with fibre counting at 2000x.
For the majority of the asbestos industry, asbestos testing and inspection suppliers use Polarised Light Microscopy (PLM) for standard bulk analysis. This technique is useful for detecting asbestos fibres in materials however, with gypsum testing, there is simply too much gypsum powder to allow for the identification of the asbestos fibres, and so a more accurate method is required to identify asbestos contaminants.
As one of only 3 UK suppliers to hold a UKAS accredited commercially used SEM, our team can identify asbestos fibres to the detection limit of 0.008%, giving our clients reassurance that the recycled gypsum powder is compliant and safe to reuse.
Accredited SEM services
As our lab is Europe’s largest asbestos testing laboratory, all of our asbestos testing activities are subject to strict assurance measures to ensure integrity and impartiality. Our BOHS qualified SEM analysts participate in proficiency schemes administered by the Health and Safety Laboratory for external integrity monitoring;
Our SEM testing suite provides more accurate analysis and risk assessment of asbestos-containing materials, which are also controlled under our UKAS ISO 17025 accreditation for quality assurance from an external body.
For the identification and testing of asbestos in gypsum, we achieved a UKAS 'Extension to Scope' accreditation.
What are my responsibilities?
If you are the duty holder, you are required to manage your asbestos risks in line with the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012. According to UK Regulations 20 and 21 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, UKAS accreditation is mandatory for the identification and analysis of asbestos in materials. This requirement includes gypsum.
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