Look Twice, Act Once - Hazardous Materials Pt. 2 - Mould
You’ve probably been into a café, or a friend’s place, or even your own house somewhere and smelt that dank, dark, musty smell. That’s usually associated with damp – which can be the beginning of mould. In modern houses, mould is usually only found when there’s a burst water pipe, or a leaking roof – some sort of water egress. In older homes however, the same is true but this can be just an effect of time – old waterproofing breaking down, or gutters being ill-maintained for years.
It is extremely rare to find mould in an uncompleted home or building, as it usually requires a damp, dark, and usually enclosed space to grow in. However, that doesn’t mean you cant find mould elsewhere.
The result of it all, however, is usually mould. Mould can cause a whole host of respiratory symptoms, flu-like symptoms, and general irritation of the airways. For those of us who suffer from asthma can also have an asthma attack by breathing in mould spores.
Like Asbestos, the best way to prevent having any kind of reaction to mould and its spores, PPE is key. So when entering a roof space, you should always be wearing a proper mask – sufficient for the job – and protective clothing including shirts, pants, and gloves. However, there are a few things you can do upon initial arrival to a worksite to prepare and ensure that you have a little contact with dangerous spores as you can.
Firstly, use your senses. Smell, and look around. If you think something smells damp, or musty – there’s a chance there may be mould around. If you happen to see mould – whether it be pink in a shower recess, or black on a ceiling – there is a good chance there is more where it came from.
Secondly, ask the owner or tradesperson on site. And, alert them to what you’ve seen – even if you’re unsure yourself. They may already be aware of mould or other hazards, or may be able to educate you on how to avoid the issue altogether, or show you the difference between mould and something that isn’t. It may also not be impacting your area of work for the day – but the tradesperson might need to know about it.
Finally, if you are not convinced that you would be safe around the spores, feel free to voice this and remove yourself from the situation. It is, after all, better to be safe than sorry.
Remember – safety is everyone’s responsibility – so stay alert, follow the procedures and you too will be safer at work!