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Painting and decorating includes various health and safety hazards and the work can involve exposure to numerous potentially dangerous substances. Workers face many risks during routine tasks including the mixing and preparation of primers and undercoats. Perhaps the biggest risk comes from respiratory issues caused by the inhalation of dust, mist or vapours during the removal of asbestos containing materials (ACMs).

Buildings built before 2000 are particularly likely to include ACMs. Decorators carrying out refurbishment or maintenance work on older properties should take precautions against exposure. Classified as a category 1 carcinogen, asbestos is responsible for an estimated 5,000 work-related deaths in the UK each year.

The inhalation of asbestos fibres causes several respiratory diseases, most of which take a significant time to manifest so illness can occur many years after exposure. The serious, incurable and potentially fatal diseases include asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis (caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos) and mesothelioma (cancer which affects the lining of the outer surface of some of the body’s organs).

With such serious risks involved when working with asbestos, professional decorating companies offer the safest option. Scott Anson Painters is a company with 20 years of experience working on a wide range of decorating projects, including the removal of ACMs. The company is committed to maintaining the highest levels of health and safety to minimise any risk to clients or employees.

Precautions to reduce exposure to asbestos should be carefully adhered to in the workplace. A priority should be an initial risk assessment, written into a method statement so that workers can abide by the Control Limit and 10 Minute Limit guidelines, as set out in the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. This helps to ensure work is carried out in a measured, timely manner to minimise ACM exposure.

Operatives working with ACMs should always be properly trained and fully informed of the hazardous material they are working with. Protective clothing should be worn, in the form of a disposable mask and full overalls. Keeping ACMs wet can help reduce the inhalation of fibres, as can keeping the material in one piece and not using power tools unless absolutely necessary.