Asbestos Removal Procedures

Asbestos Removal Procedures

Asbestos has been a major health threat to the public for many years. Even though the Australian government banned asbestos, it is still found in homes and other private properties. Regardless of the type of asbestos, it is still considered dangerous to your health. Also, necessary steps must be taken to get rid of the lethal mineral content.

Why Is Asbestos Banned?

The Australian government launched the first ban of asbestos early in the 80s. This was after it was studied that asbestos found in materials lead to various diseases and even death. Most of the people affected by asbestos complained of lung-related ailments. As of December 31, 2003, asbestos and products containing asbestos were banned all across Australia. A ban was placed on the importation, exportation, storing, supplying, installing, using and re-using of products containing asbestos.

When Is Removal Necessary?

The need for removing asbestos is considered necessary if materials containing the mineral are not well maintained. Typically, the asbestos removal will be put into action when and if there is a public health threat by the material containing the mineral. Here are situations that determine if the asbestos removal is needed {if the building was constructed before 2003 when the ban was placed};

  • If the building is being demolished
  • If a homeowner plans to perform roof repairs
  • If the homeowner needs to renovate the house
  • If the has damaged building materials

The Environmental Protection Agency is a good resource to learn more on when to call an asbestos removalist and how to handle the situation.

Asbestos Removal License Requirements

Since asbestos is banned in most of the countries around the world, it is required to be well-trained and obtain a valid license for you to remove the asbestos containing materials. Here is a breakdown of the asbestos removal license requirements of different countries;

Australia

There are two classes of licenses; Class A and Class B Licences. Class A Licence allows the specialist to remove friable and non-friable asbestos, along with asbestos-contaminated debris or dust {ACD}. Class B allows for the removal of at least 10sq meters of non-friable asbestos, along with ACDs linked to non-friable asbestos. Applicants must be over 18 years.

United States

Asbestos professionals must be well-trained under the EPA Asbestos Model Accreditation Plan {MAP}. They must also fall under five major disciplines, including management planner, worker, inspector, supervisor or contractor, and project designer. Learn more about the requirements of asbestos professionals.

United Kingdom

All the asbestos professionals must hold a license that is issued by the Health and Safety Executive {HSE}. Learn more about it here.

Europe

In Europe, the asbestos professionals must undergo proper training, and they must hold a valid license after submitting the right documentations that support their qualification. The European Commission has more information on asbestos.

Every country has a specific set of requirements for the asbestos professionals.

Asbestos Removal Procedures

Once all the requirements are met accordingly, the asbestos can be removed to eliminate a further threat to the health of the people around. Here is a guide of how it should be removed, and what you will need in the whole process;

Tools / Equipment / Safety Equipment Required

First things first, you will need to be well-prepared and protected too. Some of the tools that you will need to remove the asbestos include the following;

  • Asbestos vacuum cleaners
  • Asbestos signs
  • Asbestos vacuum bags & HEPA filters
  • Asbestos kits
  • Waste bags
  • Decontamination units {trailer and modular}
  • Negative pressure units and air monitors

These tools can be found in various government agencies and other reputable asbestos removal companies. Make sure you purchase them from a licensed source.

You will also need safety equipment, which is the Personal Protective Equipment {PPE}. These gears must be worn before the removal process commences. They include the following;

  • Half-face respirator or the P2 disposable mask
  • Hand and face wipes
  • Disposable coveralls designed for the removal process.
  • Gumboots or boot covers

These will help to prevent you from inhaling asbestos or from the mineral getting in contact with your skin.

Removal Procedures

It is only considered safe to remove the asbestos once you have the right equipment and gears. Here is a quick breakdown of how to go about it.

Preparing the area

To prepare the home for asbestos removal, you’ll need to ensure that the spread is limited to the fullest. Here are the things you should do to ensure the site is perfect for asbestos removal.

  • Lay down a 200um thick plastic bag or sheet under the working area to avoid ground contamination. The plastic sheet should not be made from recycled materials.
  • Keep doors, and windows closed and seal the ventilations and space below the door to prevent dust from getting inside.
  • Keep the children playing materials away
  • Lay down a plastic sheet inside the house as well, and ensure that it is tapped to stay firmly on the floor.
  • Cover the AC units and central heating ducts
  • Remove curtains, rugs, and other soft furnishings from work area. Cover them if they cannot be removed.

Once you have covered the entire house, inside and outside with the plastic sheet, you can start removing the asbestos materials carefully.

Site Clearance

When the removal process is over, you will need to get rid of all the asbestos materials that are on the plastic sheets. This should be done immediately after the removal process. Here is how to go about it;

  • Pile the cement containing asbestos and wrap it carefully in the plastic sheets. Simply wrap up the plastic sheet when it is still in the working area.
  • Get rid of the sheets immediately after you finish piling up.
  • Use a dedicated asbestos vacuum to clean up the area. These vacuums help to eliminate the asbestos dust and fibers around your home.
  • Use a spray pump pack to mist the area with water before you sweep. This will prevent the spread of dust.
  • Clean up any asbestos content left in the work area, and put the disposable masks and overalls in a plastic bag.

Air Monitoring

This will help to assess and determine the exposure of asbestos in the air. It must be conducted when handling friable asbestos. When removing non-friable asbestos, air monitoring is not exactly necessary. Nonetheless, it is recommended for the sake of ensuring a clean air.

Air monitoring is officially handled by an occupational hygienist or a person that has passed the asbestos assessors VET course. Here is a link to help you learn more about air monitoring

Reporting To Government Required?

Yes, any asbestos removalist with a valid Class A license must notify the local regulator five days before commencing the removal process. This should be done in writing and should include all the necessary information. Read more about the information that should be included when notifying the local regulator Here

What If I Accidentally Break Asbestos?

If this happens, you will need to wipe out any dust using a paper towel or a damp cloth, tie it in a plastic bag, and include it with other asbestos waste. A good way of avoiding this is by using the right asbestos vacuum {avoid using the normal vacuum cleaner}.

Safe Disposal

Once you have all the asbestos in the plastic bags, ensure that you dampen the waste to prevent the dust from spreading. Before you proceed to dispose of the asbestos, you must contact your local council to confirm the necessary details, including the required fees. Your local council should then arrange for the disposal of the asbestos. Keep in mind that you cannot dump the asbestos just anywhere; it is illegal.

Further tips and warnings

  1. Do not use power tools when removing asbestos
  2. Don’t use high-pressure hoses
  3. Ensure the material is tested in an NATA-accredited lab to know if it contains asbestos
  4. Always keep the materials and waste wet
  5. Avoid using compressed air
  6. Don’t use sanding discs or abrasive cuttings

Conclusion

Asbestos is lethal, and it requires to be handled professionally to avoid further spreading. Never attempt to handle asbestos if you do not hold the legal license. The NSW EPA has more information to help you understand what is required if there is asbestos in your home.