Asbestos Workplace Awareness & Safety

“Asbestos” is a commercial name, not a mineralogical definition, given to a variety of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals. These minerals possess high tensile strength, flexibility, resistance to chemical and thermal degradation, and electrical resistance. These minerals have been used for decades in thousands of commercial products, such as insulation and fireproofing materials, automotive brakes and textile products, and cement and wallboard materials.

When handled, asbestos can separate into microscopic-size particles that remain in the air and are easily inhaled. Persons occupationally exposed to asbestos have developed several types of life-threatening diseases, including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Although the use of asbestos and asbestos products has dramatically decreased in recent years, they are still found in many residential and commercial settings and continue to pose a health risk to workers and others.

NIOSH Asbestos Workplace Safety & Health Topics

Required Asbestos Awareness Refresher Training
Asbestos awareness training is required upon initial assignment and annually for employees whose are exposed to airborne concentrations of asbestos at or above the permissible exposure limit (PEL) and/or excursion limit. OSHA requires a minimum of 2 hours training annually.

Asbestos awareness refresher training, together with additional ‘site specific’ information, meets the annual OSHA (1910.1001) and the EPA Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) regulatory requirements.

Asbestos Refresher TrainingAsbestos Hazards Refresher Training

Additional Resources

Asbestos Fibers and Other Elongate Mineral Particles: State of the Science and Roadmap for Research
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2011-159 (March 2011)
This document is intended as one step in the process. NIOSH intends to pursue partnerships with other federal agencies and stakeholders to help focus the scope of the research that can contribute to the scientific understanding of asbestos and other mineral fibers, to fund and conduct the research activities, and to develop and disseminate educational materials describing results from the mineral fiber research and their implications for occupational and public health policies and practices.

Draft Document for Public Review and Comment: Asbestos and Other Mineral Fibers: A Roadmap for Scientific Research
This NIOSH Docket Archive contains all draft versions, comments on the draft documents and NIOSH responses and other materials that contributed to the development of the final publication.

NIOSH Recommendations for Limiting Potential Exposures of Workers to Asbestos Associated with Vermiculite from Libby, Montana
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2003-141 (2003)
Fact Sheet describes Vermiculite and Asbestos, and provides recommendations to prevent occupational exposures.

Asbestos Bibliography (Revised)
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-162 (1997)
Compendium of NIOSH research and recommendations on asbestos. It updates and supersedes the NIOSH document Asbestos Publications from June 1992.

Occupational Health Guidelines for Chemical Hazards
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 81-123 (January 1981)
Guidelines summarize pertinent information about chemical hazards for workers, employers, and occupational safety and health professionals.

Specific Medical Tests for OSHA Regulated Substances: Asbestos

Control of Asbestos Exposure During Brake Drum Service
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 89-121 (1989)
Presents recommendations for engineering controls and work practices to reduce exposure to asbestos during brake maintenance operations, more…

Workplace Exposure to Asbestos: Review and Recommendations: NIOSH/OSHA Asbestos Work Group Recommendations
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 81-103 (1980)
PDF only 2285 KB (41 pages)
Includes information about sampling and analysis of airborne asbestos, biologic effects of exposure, recommended occupational standards, more…

Current Intelligence Bulletin #31: Adverse Health Effects of Smoking and the Occupational Environment
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No 79-122 (1979)
Identifies six ways in which smoking can interact with workplace exposures, including asbestos.

Revised Recommended Asbestos Standard
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 77-169 (1976)
Review of information on the health effects of exposure to asbestos.

Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Asbestos
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 72-10267 (1972)
Presents the criteria and standards for preventing occupational diseases arising from exposure to asbestos dust.