Renovating a home or building? Avoid exposure to dangerous asbestos
■ BBB seeks 2014 Torch Award nominations
Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is again calling for nominations for the premier award in business ethics — the BBB Torch Award for Ethics. The Torch Awards for Ethics recognize upstanding companies which display outstanding ethics in their dealings with customers, employees, vendors and their community. All for-profit businesses of any size, owned or operated in Minnesota or North Dakota, are eligible. Nominees must be in good standing with the BBB; however BBB Accreditation is not a requirement to compete for the award. The nomination deadline is May 6.
“Our Torch Awards for Ethics shine a light on those companies that set an example for all of us,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota, in a news release. “They recognize market leaders that stand out in their industries and demonstrate excellence not only to their customers, but also their employees, vendors and communities.”
Nominations for the 2014 BBB Torch Awards for Ethics are open to the public. Companies can be nominated online by visiting thefirstbbb.org/nominate or by sending the company name, contact name, address, phone number, and email along with the nominator’s name and phone number to: BBB, Attn: Mackenzie Kelley, 220. S. River Ridge Circle, Burnsville, MN 55337; or by faxing the information to 651-695-2487. Business owners or employees may also nominate their own firms.
Entrants are judged on six areas of their business: Leadership Commitment to Ethics; Communications of Ethical Practices; Organizational Commitment to Ethical Practice; Organizational Commitment to Performance Management Practices; Organizational Commitment to Ethical Human Resource Practices; and Organizational Commitment to the Community.
“This event is the highlight of our year,” added Badgerow. “It always serves as a reminder of all the exemplary businesses we have in Minnesota and North Dakota.”
Nominated companies will receive an official entry form from the BBB. An independent panel of judges will decide the award finalists and recipients. Winners will be announced live at the BBB’s 2014 Torch Awards for Ethics ceremony in October.
■ Asbestos Awareness Week
April 6-12 aims to make people
aware that asbestos is still a problem
Each year in the United States, 2,000-3,000 people are diagnosed with a deadly form of lung disease caused by exposure to asbestos and 10,000 Americans die each year from all asbestos-related diseases.
While most exposures to asbestos occur in the workplace, many victims of asbestos disease were exposed in their own homes and didn’t know it.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is increasing its efforts to make people aware of the dangers of asbestos exposure. Gov. Mark Dayton has proclaimed April 6-12 as Asbestos Awareness Week in Minnesota.
“Increased awareness of asbestos in our home and work environments is important so that parents, health care providers, housing authorities, building and construction interests, educators and others can work together to prevent exposure,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger, in a news release.
Asbestos has been used in thousands of products because of its strength and flexibility, acoustical properties and resistance to heat, chemicals and electricity. When building materials that contain asbestos are disturbed, asbestos fibers can become airborne in the home or workplace. Breathing in asbestos fibers over a long period can cause serious illness, including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. Many symptoms of asbestos-related diseases do not appear for 20 or more years, making it difficult to diagnose.
“For these reasons, we want Minnesotans to know that if they are going to renovate their home or commercial property, they need to find out if existing building materials contain asbestos so it can be dealt with safely and properly,” said Dan Locher, asbestos and lead compliance program supervisor for MDH.
In Minnesota, there are about 1.4 million homes built before 1981 that could have asbestos in a variety of building materials: textured ceilings, floor and ceiling tiles, linoleum, boiler and pipe insulation, duct wrap insulation and seam tape, sheetrock, plaster, roofing felt, shingles, and exterior slate siding.
Commercial and public buildings of approximately the same age range could have asbestos in similar building products. The only way to know for sure if you have asbestos is to have building materials tested. Asbestos inspections must be done by a certified asbestos inspector. Similarly, handling or removal of asbestos-containing materials should be done by a licensed asbestos abatement contractor.
“Trying to do the work yourself could put you, your family and the public at risk,” Locher said. For information on how to find a qualified asbestos inspector or contractor, visit the MDH website at: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/asbestos/homeowner/howhire.html.
MDH has developed factsheets and educational materials that provide guidance on testing, remediation and proper management of asbestos-containing building materials. They can be obtained from the MDH website at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/asbestos/index.html or by calling 651-201-4620.