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Asbestos

Introduction to Asbestos

Asbestos is a natural mineral found in soil and rocks and are formed from fibres of varying size and shape. It also has high resistance to heat and most chemicals. It is widely used for making various industrial products, mostly for roofing, insulation materials, ceramic floors, asbestos cement products, automotive products (brake and clutch), textiles, gasket and protective clothing.

Asbestos as a toxic chemical that can cause lung cancer and its use was banned in a lot of countries around the world. In 2006, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has urged all countries to ban the use of asbestos.

Type of asbestos commonly found in Malaysia as below:
asbestos
Source: The Mesothelioma Centre, 2014

Current Control of Asbestos in Malaysia and Way Forward.

In Malaysia, control of asbestos usage in workplaces was carried out through legislation and enforcement such as:

  1. Occupational Safety and Health (Classification, Labelling and Safety Data Sheet of Hazardous Chemicals) Regulations 2013 (CLASS Regulations) and Industry Code of Practice on Chemicals Classification and Hazard Communication 2014 classify asbestos (based on IARC classification) as Category 1 (known or presumed human carcinogens) Industry Code of Practice on Chemicals Classification and Hazard Communication 2014 classify asbestos (based on IARC classification) as Category 1 (known or presumed human carcinogens)
  2. Occupational Safety and Health (Use and Standard of Exposure Chemical Hazardous to Health) Regulations 2000 (USECHH Regulations) requires employees to monitor workplace asbestos exposure every 6 months and medical surveillance (for substance listed under Schedule 2) every 12 months. The TWA (8 hrs) for asbestos is 0.1 f/ml.
  3. pdf Factories and Machinery (Asbestos Process) Regulations 1986 regulates all factories in which asbestos process is used, but does not apply to any building operations or works of engineering construction. The TWA (8 hrs) for asbestos is 0.1 f/ml.
  4. pdf Factories and Machinery (Building Operations and Works of Engineering Construction) (Safety) Regulations 1986 covers safety aspects of building operations and works of engineering construction. Building operations include construction, repair or maintenance, demolition etc.
  5. pdf Occupational Safety and Health (Prohibition of Use of Substance) Order 1999 prohibits the use of crocidolite for all purposes except for research and analytical purposes.

This is to create awareness and understanding among employers in addressing problems and controlling employees’ exposure to asbestos material.

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