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Workplace Health and Safety

Workplace air quality

Employers have a duty to ensure adequate air quality in the workplace, and to ensure compliance with appropriate limits for potential harmful substances in the air. The Government Laboratory is able to assist by monitoring levels of potential contaminants such as dust or chemical substances, and providing an assessment against recognised standards.

In addition we have been involved in investigations of real or perceived problems with air quality, including so-called sick building syndrome.

Examples of the testing we undertake include total dust, respirable dust, solvent vapours, humidity, etc.

These services are available to both the public and private sectors, with the range of organisations assisted including quarries, offices, process works, educational establishments and even seagoing vessels.

Lead in paint

Many years ago lead was used as an additive in paint. Although long since abandoned, there are still many surfaces still coated with paint containing lead, often over-painted with layers of other paint. Burning off lead paint, or removing in a manner that creates dust can present a health hazard, therefore it is important to know if paint contains lead before embarking on such operations. This analysis is quite straightforward and provides valuable information to guide processes and risk assessment.

Legionella in water systems

Under certain circumstances closed water systems present a risk of grown of the deadly legionella (legionnaires disease) bacteria. We are able to test water to identify whether it is contaminated.

Asbestos

Asbestos has been used for centuries, particularly for its heat resistant properties, and it has also been very widely used as in general board materials used by the construction industry, particularly between the late 1940s and mid 1980s. It is still in use today, though generally limited to more specialist purposes. Unfortunately the fibres from asbestos can cause cancer, in some cases taking very little exposure to induce fatal consequences. It is inhalation of fine asbestos fibres that is harmful, and some forms of asbestos and some types of material present a risk of release of such fibres into the air, especially if damaged or worked in any way (for example, drilling). Intact asbestos with a well sealed surface is not harmful, but any construction or DIY activities that may expose bare material or cause the release of dust may present a risk. Certain types of asbestos may only be removed by specialist licensed contractors who are trained to ensure containment and complete removal of any fibres released during the process, with verification that the area is safe before re-occupation. Advice on asbestos should be sought from:

Environment, Safety and Health Directorate

Department of Environment Food & Agriculture

Thie Slieau Whallian

Foxdale Road

St. John’s

IM4 3AS

Telephone:+44 1624 685894

We undertake the identification of the presence of asbestos in materials, to provide the information necessary for correct assessment of safety in dealing with asbestos or suspect asbestos materials. In the interests of the safety of everyone involved, samples must be taken in a manner that does not release dust, and must be double bagged (put in a sealed bag or other container, which in turn is placed inside another and sealed) to ensure the safety of anyone handling it and to avoid release of fibres in transit.

Please note that we are not currently third-party accredited for this testing, and also that we do not presently undertake clearance air sampling necessary to affirm that an area is not contaminated after asbestos removal.

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