The silent killer’s past: A long history of asbestos

 

Asbestos, a material we now know as the silent killer, refers to a group naturally occurring fibres that can be found in large deposits under the earth. They are fine, durable and fire-retardant, making them ideal for a number of applications.

We now know the dangers that asbestos poses, but for over 6,000 years we used it for everything from insulating steam engines to keeping our homes warm. Let’s look back at the long and bizarre history of asbestos, and take a moment to appreciate what proper work health and safety can do to minimise its effects.

The origins of asbestos

Asbestos deposits as old as 750,000 years have been discovered by archaeologists and it was used as early as 4,000 BC, as the wicks for candles. Fast forward around 1,000 years and Egyptian pharaohs were embalmed and buried in thick sheets of asbestos to help preserve their bodies. This practise continued and changed for thousands of years and was common in a number of cultures.

Asbestos was used for countless purposes throughout history.

Closer to 400 BC, Ancient Greeks cremated bodies wrapped in Asbestos to keep their ashes from mixing with those of the fire. Historians say that this helped birth the word asbestos, deriving from ancient Greek term, sasbestos, meaning inextinguishable or unquenchable.

Around 755 AD King Charlemagne of France used asbestos tablecloths during feasts to prevent fires that were often caused by intoxicated revellers knocking over candles. Asbestos continued to be used this way, as a useful novelty, until the late 1800s when the industrial revolution began.

Asbestos in Australia

By the dawn of the 19th century, major Asbestos mines had opened in Canada and South Africa, America, Italy and Russia. total worldwide production increased to 30,000 tonnes annually. At this point the fibres were increasingly used in industrial and residential settings for fireproofing, soundproofing and insulation.

During this time asbestos mines starting popping up throughout the country, particularly in NSW and WA. The British Royal Commission raised concerns about its health effects after several deaths were caused by the fibre in factories throughout the UK, but nonetheless mining and use of asbestos continued at an unprecedented rate.

By 1910 world production exceeded 100,000 tonnes, and homes around Australia were being built with asbestos throughout their structures. This use peaked in the 50s, 60s and 70s when it could be found in most homes built in Australia.

At long last: Asbestos ban

As the use of asbestos increased, so too did the health dangers we now know are associated with it. In 1935 reports started emerging on the effect of asbestos dust on the lungs of workers in the James Hardie factory in Perth.

Later on, health professionals and inspectors started warning the owners of a large blue asbestos mine in Wittenoom, Western Australia, that their workers were at great risk and would contract chest diseases within six months.

Asbestos was finally banned in Australia in 2003.

In the late 1980s asbestos victims were too many to ignore, as the death toll in the Wittenoom mine climbed past 500 and several other cases starting popping up nationwide. The Asbestos Disease Foundation of Australia and workers unions pressured state and national governments to act, until finally, in December 2003 the use of asbestos and all materials containing asbestos were banned nationwide.

From here plans to safely dispose of asbestos were put into place nationwide. It’s still present in thousands of industrial buildings and homes throughout Australia, but it appears that we are finally heading in the right direction and putting the dangers of asbestos behind us.

There’s still so much work to do. If you or your employees work in at-risk professions, ensure that you have the best training available to ensure asbestos-related diseases remain a thing of the past.

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    Brisbane (Brendale)

    $297

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 2nd - Jul 3rd

    TC + ITCP

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $497

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 2nd

    RIIWHS204D Work Safely at Heights

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $197

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 3rd

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Darwin

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 3rd

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Sydney

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 3rd

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Canberra

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 3rd

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Brisbane

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 3rd

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Perth

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 3rd

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Melbourne

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 3rd

    CPCCBC4051A Supervise asbestos removal

    Brisbane (Brendale)

    $347

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 3rd

    Implement Traffic Control Plan

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $297

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 6th

    CPCCDE3014A Remove non-friable asbestos

    Melbourne (Derrimut)

    $297

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 6th - Jul 7th

    CPCCDE3014A Remove non-friable asbestos

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $447

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 7th

    CPCCBC4051A Supervise asbestos removal

    Melbourne (Derrimut)

    $347

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 8th

    10675NAT Course in Asbestos Awareness (1.00 PM - 5.00 PM)

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 8th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Darwin

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 8th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Brisbane

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 8th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Melbourne

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 8th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Perth

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 8th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Sydney

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 8th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Canberra

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 9th

    RIIWHS204D Work Safely at Heights

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $197

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 9th

    Traffic Controller

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 9th - Jul 10th

    TC + ITCP

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $497

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 10th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Darwin

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 10th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Sydney

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 10th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Canberra

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 10th

    Implement Traffic Control Plan

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $297

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 10th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Brisbane

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 10th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Melbourne

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 10th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Perth

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 11th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Sydney

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 13th - Jul 14th

    CPCCDE3014A Remove non-friable asbestos

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $447

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 15th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Melbourne

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 15th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Brisbane

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 15th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Canberra

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 15th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Perth

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 15th

    10675NAT Course in Asbestos Awareness (1.00 PM - 5.00 PM)

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 15th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Sydney

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 15th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Darwin

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 16th - Jul 17th

    TC + ITCP

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $497

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 16th

    Traffic Controller

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 16th

    RIIWHS204D Work Safely at Heights

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $197

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 17th

    Implement Traffic Control Plan

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $297

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 17th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Perth

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 17th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Darwin

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 17th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Brisbane

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 17th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Melbourne

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 17th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Canberra

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 20th - Jul 21st

    CPCCDE3014A Remove non-friable asbestos

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $447

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 22nd

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Canberra

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 22nd

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Perth

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 22nd

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Darwin

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 22nd

    10675NAT Course in Asbestos Awareness (1.00 PM - 5.00 PM)

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 22nd

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Sydney

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 22nd

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Melbourne

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 22nd

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Brisbane

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 23rd

    RIIWHS204D Work Safely at Heights

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $197

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 23rd - Jul 24th

    TC + ITCP

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $497

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 23rd

    Traffic Controller

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 24th

    Implement Traffic Control Plan

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $297

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 24th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Sydney

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 24th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Canberra

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 24th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Perth

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 24th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Melbourne

    Enquire now

    Sold out

  • Jul 27th - Jul 28th

    CPCCDE3014A Remove non-friable asbestos

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $447

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 27th - Jul 28th

    CPCCBC5014A Conduct Asbestos Assessment

    Brisbane (Brendale)

    $997

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 29th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Sydney

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 29th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Canberra

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 29th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Brisbane

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 29th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Perth

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 29th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Melbourne

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 29th

    10675NAT Course in Asbestos Awareness (1.00 PM - 5.00 PM)

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 29th

    10675NAT Asbestos Awareness - 8.00 AM - 12.00 PM

    Darwin

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 30th - Jul 31st

    TC + ITCP

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $497

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 30th

    Traffic Controller

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $227

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 30th

    RIIWHS204D Work Safely at Heights

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $197

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Jul 31st

    Implement Traffic Control Plan

    Sydney (Arncliffe)

    $297

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Aug 3rd

    CPCCDE3014A Remove non-friable asbestos

    Melbourne (Derrimut)

    $297

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Aug 4th

    CPCCBC4051A Supervise asbestos removal

    Melbourne (Derrimut)

    $347

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Aug 6th

    CPCCDE3014A Remove non-friable asbestos

    Brisbane (Brendale)

    $297

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Aug 7th

    CPCCBC4051A Supervise asbestos removal

    Brisbane (Brendale)

    $347

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Sep 3rd

    CPCCDE3014A Remove non-friable asbestos

    Brisbane (Brendale)

    $297

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Sep 4th

    CPCCBC4051A Supervise asbestos removal

    Brisbane (Brendale)

    $347

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Sep 7th

    CPCCDE3014A Remove non-friable asbestos

    Melbourne (Derrimut)

    $297

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Sep 8th

    CPCCBC4051A Supervise asbestos removal

    Melbourne (Derrimut)

    $347

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Oct 1st

    CPCCDE3014A Remove non-friable asbestos

    Brisbane (Brendale)

    $297

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Oct 2nd

    CPCCBC4051A Supervise asbestos removal

    Brisbane (Brendale)

    $347

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Oct 5th

    CPCCDE3014A Remove non-friable asbestos

    Melbourne (Derrimut)

    $297

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Oct 6th

    CPCCBC4051A Supervise asbestos removal

    Melbourne (Derrimut)

    $347

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Nov 2nd

    CPCCDE3014A Remove non-friable asbestos

    Melbourne (Derrimut)

    $297

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Nov 3rd

    CPCCBC4051A Supervise asbestos removal

    Melbourne (Derrimut)

    $347

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Nov 5th

    CPCCDE3014A Remove non-friable asbestos

    Brisbane (Brendale)

    $297

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Nov 6th

    CPCCBC4051A Supervise asbestos removal

    Brisbane (Brendale)

    $347

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Dec 3rd

    CPCCDE3014A Remove non-friable asbestos

    Brisbane (Brendale)

    $297

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Dec 4th

    CPCCBC4051A Supervise asbestos removal

    Brisbane (Brendale)

    $347

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Dec 7th

    CPCCDE3014A Remove non-friable asbestos

    Read more

    Melbourne (Derrimut)

    $297

    Book now

    Sold out

  • Dec 8th

    CPCCBC4051A Supervise asbestos removal

    Melbourne (Derrimut)

    $347

    Book now

    Sold out

  • No scheduled courses - please call us to discuss your requirements

Latest OHS news

Ep 33 Tap into Dr Susanne Bahn’s innovative online safety & mental health program

Read more

Ep 32 Special Counsel Jeremy Kennedy explains how new NSW legislation wipes ability to insure

Read more

Ep 31 Sarah-Jane Dunford juggling 3-4 health and safety businesses incl Hunter Safety Awards

Wow Sarah-Jane is dynamic and fast moving. At 40, she's very busy running Riskology Consulting, the Hunter Safety Awards, a new software project as well as the local branch of the Australian Instit...

Read more

Ep 30 Steve McLeod, Fire and Safety Australia / NSCA owner, explains how he did it!

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Testimonials

“In over 20 years of training, this was one of the best courses I’ve ever attended.”

Queensland Rail

“Great! The instructor made it interesting and enjoyable”

Leighton Contractors

” We heard that AlertForce delivers one of the best courses around so the boss decided to send me to Australia from New Zealand.”

Participant Public Course

“I liked the trainer’s positive outlook and uplifting approach towards completing the long day.”

Visionstream

“Very competent training course. Trainer was very knowledgeable on subject.”

Servicestream

“AlertForce provided an excellent trainer,  knowledgeable on the topic and allowed for active questioning.”

DHS

“Informative and concise training delivered at the right pace.”

AFMA.gov.au

“The Trainer was very engaging”

Fair Work Commission

“Interesting, informative, relevant.”

Airservices Australia

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