Elevator and pressure vessel workers may be exposed to asbestos hazards

November 1987

OLYMPIA - Elevator shafts and pressure vessels are often lined or covered with asbestos or asbestos-containing material. When the materials are disturbed or handled, hazardous levels of airborne asbestos fibers may result. People in these areas should take measures to protect themselves and their employees, warns the state Department of Labor & Industries.

Asbestos is a fireproof mineral widely used in building construction and manufacturing processes. Elevator shafts and pressure vessels frequently are coated or blanketed with sprayed-on fire retardant that contains asbestos. People involved in elevator or pressure vessel maintenance, construction or inspection may encounter deteriorated or disturbed asbestos- containing materials while performing their routine duties.

Breathing airborne asbestos has been found to cause respiratory disease and lung cancer. State regulations (WAC 296-65 and WAC 296-62-077) have been developed to reduce the risk of disease for those who work with asbestos by setting up procedures employers must use to control exposure.

Comprehensive methods for controlling workers' exposure to asbestos are included in the regulations. They include requirements for protective clothing and respirators, techniques for asbestos removal and handling, ways to test for asbestos exposure, and ways to clean up and dispose of materials containing asbestos.

Copies of the State of Washington's complete asbestos regulations are available from the Standards and Policy Coordination Section, Consultation and Compliance Services Division, Post Office Box 44620, Olympia, Washington, 98504-4620, or by calling 1-800-423-7233.

NOTICE TO EMPLOYEES: If you suspect that asbestos hazards exist, bring the problem to the attention of your employer. If you do not obtain satisfactory results, you may file a confidential complaint with the Department of Labor & Industries at the number listed above. All complaints are promptly investigated.

NOTICE TO EMPLOYERS: If you would like help determining whether your worksite has an asbestos problem, or if you need assistance in evaluating your worksite, interpreting the requirements or applying the rules, free no-fault consultation is available. Consultation services may be obtained by calling the Department of Labor & Industries office nearest you. For more information or assistance, contact a Labor & Industries' consultant in your area.

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