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Health risks are associated with asbestos-containing materials, especially when disturbed. Inhaled asbestos fibres can cause various asbestos-related diseases, such as lung cancer and asbestosis. That is why asbestos removal is necessary after confirming the presence of asbestos. However, you need to ensure you follow asbestos removal rules.
Here, you can learn more about asbestos removal rules, the removal of friable and non-friable asbestos, and asbestos safety. This post also describes codes of practices to protect yourself, safety guidelines when removing asbestos, and how a professional asbestos removalist company can help.
Removal of Friable and Non-Friable Asbestos
Workplace health and safety laws consider friable asbestos removal high-risk work. As such, any work involving removing and disposing of friable asbestos or disturbing asbestos materials of this form is hazardous. You must invite a licensed asbestos removalist to remove friable asbestos or over ten sqm of non-friable (bonded) asbestos.
However, it is advisable to call on a licensed asbestos removalist to remove any non-friable asbestos. This is because of the risks that are linked to the act of disturbing asbestos.
Asbestos Safety Rules
Your safety is at risk during asbestos removal if you fail to follow the necessary guidelines. Some of the safety risks include:
- The use of compressed air or high-pressured water on asbestos roofs.
- Failing to invite asbestos professionals to perform clearance inspections.
- Failing to provide adequate barricades and signages at asbestos removal project areas.
- Not attending sites before issuing clearance certificates.
- Issuing clearance certificates before asbestos-containing products are entirely removed.
Rules for Asbestos Workers and Removalists
Some of the laws on working with asbestos are summarised below:
Licensed asbestos removalists
There are guidelines for licensed asbestos removalists. For example, they are mandated to put on personal protective equipment and observe safety protocols to remove and dispose of asbestos waste.
Licensed asbestos assessors
Licensed asbestos assessors have to observe guidelines when inspecting and assessing asbestos products or asbestos-containing materials. For example, they must ensure proper air monitoring when working with asbestos.
Health and Safety Training for Asbestos Removal
Greater emphasis is placed on asbestos awareness. Many resources describe efforts being made to manage the effects of asbestos exposure. An example of the efforts promoting asbestos awareness is the National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Management and Awareness.
Less than ten sqm of asbestos removal
Various degrees of asbestos awareness training must be conducted for different categories of asbestos workers. Less than ten square metres of asbestos removal means workers are at risk of asbestos exposure and must be given asbestos awareness training.
Examples of such workers include plumbers, bathroom renovators, and electricians. The asbestos awareness training has to cover asbestos identification, safe handling, and asbestos control measures.
Over ten sqm of asbestos removal
This category of workers requires completing the necessary (VET) vocational education and training course before performing asbestos work. This requirement also applies to friable asbestos removal. In addition, supervisors of asbestos removal have to take additional training.
Rules on Health Monitoring
If you are an employer, the law requires you to provide health monitoring to certain workers. Health monitoring must be provided to workers at risk of asbestos exposure even before they start asbestos removal or asbestos-related work.
This is especially the case for your licensed asbestos removalists and assessors.
Remember to provide health monitoring to workers at regular intervals. Likewise, you should regularly update your health monitoring report. You must also forward regular and adverse health monitoring reports to relevant local bodies.
Codes of Practices to Protect Yourself
SafeWork Australia has essential recommendations you should follow when working with asbestos. They include the following:
- Hire a licensed asbestos removalist always.
- Always put on personal protective equipment.
- Be sure to use a waste disposal facility with a licence.
The relevant codes of practice for asbestos removal and work include the following:
- Use the asbestos removal and disposal processes outlined in the Code of Practice: How to safely remove asbestos.
- When drilling into asbestos, use an LEV or Class H (HEPA) High-Efficiency Particulate Air vacuum.
Safety Guidelines When Removing Asbestos
Specific forms of asbestos may not be so harmless if left undisturbed. However, certain workplace activities can cause the release of asbestos fibres into the air. In turn, you can inhale the fibres, and such trapped fibres can cause asbestos-related diseases.
Consequently, you must be aware of the dangers of specific asbestos-related tasks.
Examples include pressure cleaning, working with cement sheeting, and high-speed power drilling. However, the risks of handling pipe insulation differ concerning asbestos cement.
You should follow these safety tips when removing asbestos or working with them:
- Use high-speed power tools as designed. It should capture or suppress airborne asbestos safely.
- Properly decontaminate all tools and equipment used for asbestos removal. Also, decontaminate the asbestos removal area.
- Double bag and seal tools that cannot be decontaminated in asbestos waste bags before removal.
- Follow the information on asbestos removal outlined in the SafeWork Australia Code of Practice.
Guide on Asbestos Removal
It is essential to know the type of asbestos when removing asbestos safely. Likewise, you should know the conditions where DIY removal is possible and when to hire a removalist.
Friable asbestos removal
If you need to remove asbestos from the workplace, hire a Class A licensed asbestos removalist.
Non-friable asbestos removal
If the quantity is less than ten sqm, you (or other competent persons) may be able to perform a limited amount of asbestos removal work even without a licence. However, this is only allowed for non-friable asbestos-containing materials of less than ten sqm.
In this case, you must also obey laws on how asbestos is transported and disposed of. You can also contact your local council for guidelines.
Additional guidelines on asbestos removal
- It is generally recommended to use a licensed asbestos removalist for any asbestos removal work. Although unlicensed removal of asbestos is permitted in these circumstances, it is generally not recommended as it may be safer for a licensed asbestos removalist to perform the removal work.
- In another vein, if the amount of non-friable asbestos to be removed exceeds ten sqm, you must hire licensed asbestos removalists.
- In addition, you also need to engage an independent licensed asbestos assessor to perform air monitoring.
- Licensed asbestos removalists must comply with all relevant duties specified under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
- Note that Class A asbestos removal licence holders' permission levels differ from Class B. Still, they will need the workplace asbestos register before starting any asbestos removal work.
- After Class A asbestos removal work, a clearance inspection is necessary before a clearance certificate is issued.
- All asbestos work also has to be disposed of safely and legally.
- After performing air monitoring, the results have to be shared with the workers, the health and safety representative for workers, the person or manager conducting a business or undertaking, and other people at the workplace.
When to Hire a Licensed Asbestos Removalist
You may decide not to hire licensed asbestos removalists for less than ten sqm of non-friable asbestos removal. This can apply when removing a certain amount of a single asbestos cement sheet. However, you must hire a licensed asbestos removalist to remove all non-friable and friable asbestos.
Of the two types of asbestos removal licences, Class A licence holders are allowed to remove all forms of friable and non-friable asbestos. In other words, you should know which licence class is required for the specific asbestos removal work.
Asbestos Safety Tips
- Avoid disturbing building materials as much as possible. Be sure of the possibility of the material containing asbestos.
- Put on respiratory protective equipment in areas where asbestos work is done.
- Avoid contact with asbestos-contaminated dust or debris (ACD) as much as possible.
- Get help if you have asbestos dust or debris on your clothing.
- Seek the help of professional removalists to help you identify asbestos and obey safety alerts.
Hire an Asbestos Removalist
After reading this detailed guide on asbestos rules, you may find that you need help with asbestos assessment, identification, testing, disposal, or management. You can get valuable assistance and service from an asbestos removalist with a valid asbestos licence. These certified asbestos contractors are experienced in having asbestos safely removed.