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An asbestos supervisor is responsible for making sure that all safety regulations pertaining to the removal of asbestos from a building are strictly followed. There are federal regulations that must be met, and there are other regulations that vary according to location, all of which require study and training to ensure there is no mismanagement. Asbestos is a health hazard, and exposure to the substance can result in a number of lung diseases, including mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.
A half dozen different kinds of fibrous minerals have been given the name asbestos: anthophyllite, tremolite, actinolite, amosite, crocidolite, and chrysotile. All of these naturally occurring minerals are hazardous to humans and can lead to cancer. Asbestos fibers give off no scent or taste, and builders once used them widely in construction projects, including homes and schools, because they are strong and resistant to fire and heat. The danger when dealing with asbestos occurs when the asbestos is damaged, broken or disturbed, allowing people nearby to breathe in the harmful fibers. Some countries, but not all, have banned asbestos use because of the health risks.
Among the usual regulations that an asbestos supervisor should be aware of is the need to wet down the asbestos being removed to cut down on asbestos dust. An asbestos supervisor also requires workers to use respirators and undergo special training. An asbestos supervisor also normally would be required to ensure that a special enclosure surrounds the area where the asbestos removal is occurring. In some locations a supervisor must be licensed by the governing environmental regulatory agency, which requires the completion of specific safety training and an examination.
In some instances, asbestos supervisors can be held liable if safety regulations are not followed. In 2008, for example, a federal court in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, sentenced an asbestos supervisor for illegally removing insulation made of asbestos at an elementary school, and he received house arrest plus community service. He was ordered to pay restitution. He had been found guilty of allowing another person to supervisor the asbestos removal instead of overseeing the work himself. His stand-in did not wet down the asbestos as required by law in asbestos abatement jobs.