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Asbestos at Work: Construction Sites

Because asbestos was commonly used in building materials up until the late 20th century, it is not uncommon for the substance to be found at construction sites. This is especially true if the remodel, renovation, or demolition of an older structure is taking place. Where exactly can construction workers find asbestos on the job?


Asbestos is commonly found in installed products, such as:

  • sprayed-on fireproofing
  • pipe insulation
  • floor tiles
  • cement pipe and sheet
  • roofing felts and shingles
  • ceiling tiles
  • fire-resistant drywall
  • drywall joint compounds
  • acoustical products

The construction activities in which asbestos exposure is regulated by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration are:

  • Demolishing or salvaging structures where asbestos is present.
  • Removing or encapsulating asbestos-containing material (ACM).
  • Constructing, altering, repairing, maintaining, or renovating asbestos-containing structures or substrates.
  • Installing asbestos-containing products.
  • Cleaning up asbestos spills/emergencies.
  • Transporting, disposing, storing, containing, and housekeeping involving asbestos or asbestos-containing products on a construction site.

Note: The standard does not apply to asbestos-containing asphalt roof coatings, cements, and mastics.

While worker safety from asbestos exposure is supposed to be assessed and monitored by employers, not all construction workers are kept safe on the job. In many instances, workers are exposed to asbestos without the proper knowledge, training, or equipment to safely handle asbestos-containing materials during the activities mentioned above. Some employers are found guilty of endangering workers during their time at work.

Source: OSHA Asbestos Standard for the Construction Industry 

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