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Findings show that many homes built before 1990 are likely to contain asbestos. If you have checked and confirmed the presence of asbestos in the house, your next step is to remove it. For this, you need to know who removes asbestos and what to expect from the asbestos removal process.

This guide on managing asbestos explains what to expect from the asbestos removal process and who removes asbestos. You can also read up on health and safety regulations on managing asbestos, risks of asbestos exposure, and what to do if a material contains asbestos.

What to Expect from Professional Asbestos Removalists

  • According to law, your first step for asbestos removal is to notify the asbestos safety regulator in your State/Territory.
  • After that, a licensed asbestos removalist can visit the site.
  • Your neighbours must be informed of the asbestos removal process and safety measures.
  • The next step is to explain the steps for handling asbestos safely, and then asbestos safety paperwork is filled.
  • The asbestos removalist will make sure to place safety signages and barricades around the work area.
  • You have to work with them to ensure there is a clear exit and that the site is cleared of furniture and belongings.
  • Next, the asbestos professionals take measures to prevent the spread of asbestos dust. For example, they may apply a wet seal.
  • Possible asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), such as insulation and contaminated soils, will be removed as asbestos waste.
  • The next step is the complete removal and disposal of asbestos if necessary. Otherwise, certain forms of asbestos are utterly sealed.
  • Finally, a clearance certificate will be issued to you, and all asbestos disposal processes will be performed.

Who Removes Asbestos in Homes or Workplaces?

Inviting a licenced asbestos professional is required if you wish to remove friable asbestos. You need a friable asbestos removal licence if you want to remove any amount of friable asbestos. Likewise, it would be best to have a licenced asbestos removalist come out and remove above ten sqm of non-friable or bonded asbestos.

In other words, you cannot remove more than ten sqm of non-friable asbestos if you do not have a non-friable asbestos removal licence. You are advised to invite a licensed asbestos professional to help you remove any amount of non-friable asbestos.

Health and Safety Rules on Managing Asbestos

There are several recommended guidelines and dos and don'ts regarding asbestos-safe work procedures.

For instance, an independent clearance inspection for possible asbestos-contaminated properties is required after completing licensed asbestos removal work. This needs to be done before the area is reoccupied. Some work health and safety regulations take it a step further to allow the issuance of on-the-spot asbestos fines.

Some asbestos-related offences include the following:

  • The use of compressed air or high-pressure water on asbestos roofs.
  • Failing to engage an asbestos professional for clearance inspections.
  • Failing to provide adequate signage and barricades in areas where asbestos removal occurs.
  • Clearance certificates are issued without properly removing ACMs or even attending the site.

Who is Responsible for Handling Asbestos?

Competent person

This person has adequate training, experience, skill, and knowledge of the asbestos removal industry's best practices. These persons need to have the relevant certification relating to specified courses that qualify them for licenced asbestos assessor work.

Alternatively, they may have occupational health and safety qualifications or related fields.

Asbestos assessor

These persons hold asbestos assessor licences, allowing them to provide air monitoring and clearance certificates for friable asbestos removal.

Asbestos removal supervisor

You need Class A licence holders for friable asbestos removal. Likewise, you need nominated supervisors to be present when such licenced asbestos removal work is done. These supervisors must also be readily available when Class B (non-friable) asbestos removal work is done.

Risks of Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos-containing materials that are in good condition do not pose much health risk. However, disturbed asbestos, such as those being cut or drilled, may release tiny asbestos fibres into the air. You may inhale these fibres, and they can, in turn, cause asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Consequently, health and safety authorities highly recommend that you take steps to identify and safely remove material that may contain asbestos fibres. This will help to limit the potential health risks.

Examples of Asbestos-Containing Materials

Non-friable asbestos is also commonly known as bonded asbestos, and you can find them in common building materials that were used from the 1940s to the 1980s. An example is asbestos cement sheeting.

Other examples of asbestos materials and asbestos hazards that can cause diseases related to exposure to asbestos include the following:

  • Vinyl floor tiles
  • Loose-fill roof insulation
  • Loose-fill asbestos insulation
  • Asbestos ceiling
  • Wall sheeting

What to Do if a Material Contains Asbestos

If you suspect the presence of asbestos, you should take a safe approach to treating the item like it contains asbestos. Quickly invite a licensed asbestos professional to assess and possibly remove it. They can test a sample in a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratory.

The role of asbestos registers and asbestos management plans

After identifying asbestos in the workplace, you need to record details of it in an asbestos register. The details should include the location, time of discovery, condition, and type of asbestos.

Such registers must be made available to those likely to be exposed to asbestos.

Similarly, you need to prepare and keep an asbestos management plan. This applies to manufactured or naturally occurring asbestos.

This asbestos removal control plan needs to include a reference to your asbestos register, safe work procedures, emergency procedures, and control measures. Furthermore, it should detail asbestos awareness training measures for relevant asbestos workers on removing asbestos or asbestos-related work.

Tips on Safe Removal of Asbestos

The reasons for proper handling and disposal of asbestos materials do not end with the need to lower the risk of exposure. You would also safeguard public health and safety.

Read on for tips on proper asbestos removal and disposal:

  • It is essential to use proper protective clothing and protective equipment.
  • It would be best if you took appropriate measures to reduce the risk of exposure during the asbestos removal process. This includes putting on personal protective equipment.
  • You should ensure asbestos products are removed and disposed of according to federal and state guidelines.
  • You need to provide proper air monitoring during and after asbestos removal. This way, you can check for the presence of asbestos fibres in the air.
  • It is best to hire an asbestos removalist company for safe asbestos removal. As such, you should feel free to check for relevant asbestos licences.

Tips on Proper Disposal of Asbestos Waste

  • Use sealed containers to dispose of asbestos waste.
  • Asbestos disposal should only be made at approved disposal sites.
  • Only use asbestos contractors with relevant training and equipment to handle asbestos waste disposal.
  • It would be best to ensure that asbestos removal or abatement professionals follow the rules for managing asbestos safely.
  • Refer to the How to Safely Remove Asbestos – Code of Practice for tips and guides.
  • Licenced asbestos removalists also have lots of experience in recyclable waste removal, even though recycling asbestos is not feasible.
  • You can depend on asbestos professionals to safely transport asbestos waste to dedicated landfill sites.

Licenced Asbestos Removalists Can Help

This guide has explained what you can expect from the asbestos removal process. You have also learned more about asbestos professionals responsible for handling asbestos safely and tips on the safe removal of asbestos.

The best recommendation is to invite licensed asbestos removalists to identify, test, encapsulate, remove, transport, or dispose of asbestos. You can be sure they have the proper training and equipment for safe asbestos removal and disposal.