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I'm worrying more each day and need some advise.

17 replies

PipBeckett · 30/03/2004 10:21

Friday my dh came home from work and said he had something to tell me. I knew it couldn't be anything good because he was so serious. He told me that his boss had called them all together for a meeting just before leaving for the weekend.

Eighteen months ago they had major work done on the office and it has recently come to light that during this work some asbestos was disturbed. I know very little about asbestos apart from that it's concidered dangerous. I've refrained from googling it because I feel worried enough already. His boss explained that a team were going to come in and once again disturb part of ceiling and check the air quality. If the results were bad then they would all have to undergo a full medical.

I know it's bothering him because he jokes about getting a huge payout if anything happens to him. But like I keep telling him, I'm not bothered about the money. I'd just rather have him around.

I thought I was feeling okay and I kept telling myself not to worry until we knew anything for sure. But I just can't help it. Does anyone know what it might mean or am I better off not knowing?

Sorry for the rambling.

OP posts:
Blu · 30/03/2004 10:35

PipBeckett, I'm no expert on this, but just wanted to say I'm really sorry that this worry has been foisted upon you.

I am sure you have no need to panic. I doubt your dh was actually in the room while the work was taking place? I believe the danger is from certain kinds of asbestos being breathed in. So if it was the fibrous wadding type, or someone sawed or drilled into the solid type, dust would be generated and present a risk.

IME (we have had asbestos in parts of my work building), a survey for asbestos should always be done before any work starts, and then if asbestos is present, special precautions are put in place. It sounds as if either you dh's employers or the building contractors slipped up somewhere.

If I worked at your dh's office, I would get together with the other emplyees and seek independent advice - is there a union or a professional association? I don't say this because I think you have anything serious to worry about, but it would be good to know, as both the office and the contractors move to protect their interests, that everything really is being done correctly on behalf of the employees.

PipBeckett · 30/03/2004 10:39

Thanks blu

He was in the office at the time the work was being done and I think someone has slipped up about the asbestos because this has only come to light eighteen months on. I might suggest to him getting some outside advise. I am worried because we have two young children

OP posts:
Marina · 30/03/2004 10:40

Oh Pip, you're not rambling. I'd be absolutely terrified and wouldn't google either. What a horrible fright for you both.
Is your dh in a union? Mine has a lot of useful information on employee rights concerning workplaces asbestos in its website (funnily enough the HSE one concentrates on the employers...). If he isn't, now might be a good time to join.
He and his colleagues need to know:

  • Why has it come to light now, 18 months after the event? Is this to do with forthcoming, much more stringent legislation on notification of asbestos disturbance in the workplace?
  • What sort of asbestos was it and who will be responsible for surveying and documenting the disturbance? Does his workplace have an appropriate Health and Safety Officer/Department?
    I think we all know asbestos is dangerous, but not everyone exposed to it develops health problems.
    Oh I hope this helps. I didn't want this to slip off the Active Threads screen all together.
    I can post the link to the union website if you want. It's non-sensationalist and written from the worker's perspective.
suedonim · 30/03/2004 10:40

Pip, we're kind of where you are but much further down the line, so I sympathise. My dh used to be in the Royal Navy, where he was regularly exposed to asbestos, which was used in warships. At the time I don't think it was realised that asbestos was dangerous, so precautions weren't taken.

The problem is that asbestos can cause illness 30 or 40 years later on in life, which is where we are now. I try not to think about it, as there's nothing we can do about it, unfortunately. However, I also take comfort that none of dh's former colleagues have succumbed to the illness, afaik.

I would think that your dh's exposure was pretty minimal and that he is unlikely to develop an illness in the future. I think it might be something that's best put to the back of your mind, whilst following your dh's company's advice, though I know that's easier said than done. Hth.

PipBeckett · 30/03/2004 10:42

Thank you Marina - I would like to see the link from the union website. My dh isn't in a union but maybe now is a good time to join one.

OP posts:
Marina · 30/03/2004 10:48

Here it is Pip
Pleased to see others who know more have posted, even though their knowledge has been acquired for upsetting reasons

PipBeckett · 30/03/2004 10:51

Thank you for your support suedonim. I'm so sorry that you are going through this to. Could it really manifest in 30-40 years time?

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kiwisbird · 30/03/2004 10:53

We found out that as children we were taught in asbestos laden buildings, these were dismantled while we played in and around them. I remember writing rude slogans in the red dust...
I was very scared too, but have had no symptoms or any indications so far...
Do seek professional advice, they should already have done that anyway, to dump this on employees and expect them to figure it out themselves is a bit much
Good luck, do try not to worry/panic/stress too much

suedonim · 30/03/2004 14:47

Yes, as far as I'm aware, PipB, the problem with asbestos isn't an immediate one, it is years in the future. I suppose you could compare it slightly with smoking; no one is going to get lung cancer the day after they take up smoking, any danger lies in the future. I'll admit I haven't googled to find out more about this subject, I know I'd frighten myself to death. Lots of good advice here from others, I hope you feel a little comforted and don't forget, chances are no one at all will get sick from what has happened at your dh's work. Best wishes.

mummytojames · 30/03/2004 14:56

pip as far as i can remember aspestos is air born whe disturbed like the others said its not the kind of thing that will show up right away but im sure it affects the lungsand weaks them somehow which can result in breathing problems in the future but it is rare that such a short time of contact ould realy cause that much damage the reason there calling them in for a medical is to cover them selfs but it is usualy fine in most cases please i know its hard but try and not worry to much im sure your h will be fine
hugs and kisses to you both

pollingfold · 30/03/2004 15:03

Agree with all the others. the one thing I not from your original note is that they are going to come in and disturb the ceiling again.

They should at least clear the office of people while this work is under way, and thus stop a second possible exposure period.

i'm sure that your husband is at very minimal risk, but the emplyer should no expose them to any further risk now that this problem is know about.

Blu · 30/03/2004 15:06

Pip, I do think that now would be a very good time for your dh and his colleagues to join the appropriate union, and ask for support to ensure that everything is looked after properley.

essbee · 30/03/2004 16:17

Message withdrawn

tamum · 30/03/2004 17:45

I don't know much about this, but the risk they are worried about is mesothelioma. It is likely to take a long time to develop (usually a few decades) and is very rare, even after significant exposure. There are two common sorts of asbestos, blue and white, and as far as I remember blue is dangerous but not white. Maybe he could find out what sort it was?

I'm really sorry you've got this worry, but the chances are it will be alright.

Evita · 30/03/2004 20:36

Pip, we live in a council block which has some asbestos walls in it. We were told about it when we moved in and were told strictly not to damage the surface as that causes the dust to come out. However, we have since then had almost all of them removed (in sealed tents by blokes in uniforms and masks, all rather scary at the time!) and asked loads of questions about it. Basically the only people who've ever been diagnosed with an asbestos related condition are people who worked in factories etc. directly with asbestos for years and years. So it is intense exposure over a long time that's the greatest risk. I'm SURE your dh will be ok.

PipBeckett · 30/03/2004 20:56

Thank you all for your support. You have put my mind at ease and I'm going to insist he has the day off work when they plan to disturb the ceiling again. Thinking back to when I was a child I used to play in an old abandonned factory while it was being demolished. I was probably exposed then because the risks weren't known. It just makes you feel uneasy when someone sits you all down and says you've potentially been exposed to something dangerous. I'm going to try and not worry about it or else I know he'll worry more. Thank you again everyone for your support.

OP posts:
WideWebWitch · 30/03/2004 22:30

Pipbeckett, sorry, this must be very scary. If you'd like me to I can google a bit tomorrow and only post the positive bits, the headline good news of the sort tamum talks about. What an irresponsible and thoughtless boss.

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