The goal of asbestos removal safety is to stop your lungs looking like this……
Some general rules to follow include:
Wet down – Asbestos should be wet down when removing. Do not wet down roofs as you will increase the hazard of slipping. Also it is unnecessary to wet down the painted side of asbestos sheeting, you are just putting water on paint, not asbestos.
Water can evaporate quickly, for the highest level of protection against dust 10% PVA glue and water sprayed onto exposed asbestos sheeting is recommended. Do not use a pressure washer to spray sheets.
Do not break, cut or pulverize sheeting – Doing so will liberate asbestos fibers and these will contaminate the surrounding environment.
Do not slide sheets – When stacking sheets do not slide sheets over one another. Doing so will release asbestos.
Always use appropriate PPE and equipment – Check your coveralls and respirators are rated for asbestos, check bags for asbestos disposal are rated for asbestos, if using a vacuum make sure it is a hazardous materials vacuum rated for asbestos. Do not wear ordinary clothes during removal then bring them home and wash them. You will contaminate your house and washing will not remove all the asbestos.
Leave internal asbestos removal or asbestos insulation removal work to professionals – This type of asbestos removal work is very complicated, requires specific equipment and procedures to ensure safety. If done incorrectly can be costly to repair and hazardous in the extreme to your health.
Be aware of the different forms of asbestos – Some forms of asbestos are dangerous in the extreme. Removing friable blue asbestos insulation has an extreme danger rating. Removal of white asbestos bonded to cement in a sheet, in comparison is a much lower risk.
If you think a material may contain asbestos treat it as if it does or get it tested – It is not worth the stress of finding out after the fact that the material removed contained asbestos and you did not take the necessary precautions.
Electric screwdrivers are not sufficient to undo bolts you need a rattle gun, sometimes you will encounter old rusted bolts that will not be able to be undone by a rattle gun. These can be removed by a grinder, but grinding poses a risk of nicking the sheet, sending asbestos dust into the air.
Cladding removal requires you to remove hundreds of nails, this requires patience. Smashing a sheet into pieces does not make the job quicker, you will contaminate the area and have to deal with hundreds of smashed pieces. If you pull out the nails one by one, you can remove the sheet cleanly in one piece and not have to worry about contamination of the surrounding environment or cleaning up hundreds of tiny pieces of asbestos.
Remove cladding indoors is orders of magnitude more dangerous and difficult than outdoors. Refer to the detailed guide below for procedures required for indoor asbestos removal.
Falling through an old asbestos roof is a real danger, asbestos rooves are old, brittle, weathered and have cracks in them, making them even more susceptible to fall throughs.
I have personally seen an employee fall through a roof, his bicept was cut open to the bone, the wound split open to a 20cm opening, muscles are under tension and when cut they spring open. He almost lost his eye, had cuts just below and above his eye and that was just the damage from the asbestos and wooden rafters cutting him as he fell through. Luckily for him he was not impaled by objects on the ground, as we had cleared the area. It was only a single story roof if it were higher or was impaled he would probably be dead. Be carefull when working on asbestos roofs.
Do not wet down roofs as this increases the slipping hazard of people working on the roof.
All asbestos contaminated clothing and coveralls should be disposed of as asbestos waste.
Once asbestos has been removed it needs to be wrapped in black builders plastic, sometimes double wrapped. There are regulations that vary from state to state and disposal sites. Before disposing and removing asbestos check the requirements for disposal at the facility you intend to use.
After safely and thoroughly removing asbestos, knowing you took all necessary precautions and followed the procedures required to protect yourself and the enviornment you will be left feeling tired, happy, healthy and stress free.
If you didn’t protect yourself, removed the material incorrectly, breathed in a lot of asbestos, contaminating yourself and the enviornment leaving yourself with the thought of contracting mesothelioma forever on your mind. This is how you will feel, slightly happy, but munted.
The short guide finishes here. Below is the detailed guide.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Personal protective clothing needs to be provided and worn at all times during all work in the asbestos removal area prior to achieving a satisfactory final clearance inspection. Personal protective clothing needs to be made from materials which provide protection against fibre penetration.
Clothing made from wool or other materials that attract fibrous dusts should not be worn at the asbestos removal site. Coveralls should not have external pockets or velcro fastenings because these are easily contaminated and difficult to decontaminate. Any clothing worn under coveralls must be disposed of or suitably bagged for laundering as asbestos-contaminated clothing.
Disposable coveralls are preferred although some are easily torn (these are unsuitable and should not be worn). Disposable coveralls should also:
- never be re-used or taken home
- be disposed of as asbestos waste after a single use
- be of a suitable standard to prevent penetration of asbestos fibers
- be one size too big as this will help prevent ripping at the seams
– if cuffs are loose ensure they are sealed with tape
– ensure coverall legs are worn over footwear as tucking them in lets dust in
– ensure the hood is worn over the respirator straps.
In some limited circumstances, for example if there is a fire hazard, disposable protective clothing is not appropriate and re-usable types may be used.
Used non-disposable coveralls must be either disposed of after a single use or laundered. However, laundering of asbestos-contaminated protective clothing is not recommended because decontamination cannot be guaranteed. If re-usable protective clothing is to be laundered.
Special attention needs to be paid to the risk of heat stress and burns from working in very hot environments. A competent person needs to assess this risk and determine the most suitable protective clothing and decontamination procedures for employees in these situations.
The use of protective gloves needs to be determined by a risk assessment.
If significant quantities of asbestos fibers may be present, single-use disposable gloves need to be worn. If latex gloves must be used, select low protein (powder free) gloves. Gloves used for asbestos removal work need to be disposed of as asbestos waste. Laundering/cleaning these gloves is not recommended due to physical damage/deterioration as a result of the work performed and cleaning process.
Regardless of whether gloves are used, asbestos removal workers need to clean their hands and fingernails thoroughly after work.
Appropriate safety footwear (ie steel-capped, rubber-soled work shoes orgumboots) needs to be provided for all persons removing asbestos. This footwear needs to be lace less as laces and eyelets are easily contaminated and difficult to clean. Footwear needs to remain inside the barricaded area or dirty decontamination area for the duration of the asbestos removal work and should not be shared due to hygiene reasons. When safety footwear is not in use it needs to be stored upside down to minimize asbestos-contamination inside the footwear. Storage facilities need to be provided to allow this. Disposable overshoes should be avoided because they cause a slipping risk.
At the end of the job and upon leaving the work area, safety footwear must be:
- sealed in double bags for use on the next asbestos removal site (but not for any other type of work), or disposed as asbestos waste
The suitability of employees for work in the asbestos removal industry needs to be assessed by a qualified medical practitioner. Employees must be medically fit to wear PPE – the employer needs to seek medical advice if there is any uncertainty. If a medical condition precludes the use of negative pressure respirators, employees need to be provided with a continuous flow, positive pressure respirator wherever possible.
Respirators need to be issued to individuals for their exclusive use – employees need to select a size and make that fits them. The fit of a negative-pressure respirator to a person’s face is critical. A fit test, in accordance with AS/NZS 1715:1994 Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective devices and the manufacturer’s instructions, needs to be performed to assist in determining that the respirator fits the individual. It is difficult for an individual to establish that a disposable respirator provides the required fit. For this reason it is recommended that where a half-face respirator has been determined as providing the required level of protection, a non-disposable respirator be used.
All asbestos removal employees using negative-pressure respirators that require a facial seal must be clean shaven or they won’t be protected properly. Employees with beards, stubble or facial hair need to use a continuous flow positive pressure respirator.
Employees requiring the use of prescription glasses may not be able to usefull-face respirators because of the loss of seal around the spectacle arms.
If their glasses cannot be modified so they do not need the support of the ears, these people should not use full-face respirators and need to wear air supply hoods instead. However, it is important to be sure these hoods will provide a sufficient level of protection.
The level of respiratory protection required (eg P1, P2, P3 and supplied air respirators) needs to be determined by a competent person in accordance with the asbestos removal task to be undertaken.
A competent person may change the level of respiratory protection at any stage during the removal process following a thorough assessment of the fiber levels experienced inside the asbestos work area. Typically, this may occur during the final clean-up after the removal of friable ACM (eg when the use of air-lines is no longer considered necessary).
A fit check (different to a fit test), in accordance with AS/NZS 1715:1994
Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective devices and the manufacturer’s instructions, needs to be performed immediately before commencing work with the respirator each time it is to be used.
The respirator must be worn in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the coverall hood must go over the respirator straps. It must be worn at all times in the removal area and until the appropriate stage of personal decontamination at the end of a shift or at a break. As part of the decontamination process, ensure the respirator is taken off last.
Disposable respirators are not a preferred form of respiratory protection for asbestos removal work. If used, they must be disposed of as asbestos waste after a single use. Non-disposable respirators must be cleaned and stored in a safe place away from contamination.
The respirator should never be left lying around where it can collect dust and should never be dangled around a person’s neck.
A system of regular cleaning, inspection and maintenance must be provided for non-disposable respirators. Records of all respirator uses and maintenanceneed to be established and kept up-to-date (eg a log book). Respirators need to be maintained in a clean and good working condition by the person responsible for their safe working condition. All parts, including filters, valves and seals, need to be inspected before and after each use. Respirator defects need to be reported immediately to the supervisor of the removal job for repair or replacement.
The length of time a particulate filter for asbestos removal work is used depends on resistance to breathing and damage to the filter. The filter needs to be replaced when damaged or when resistance increases in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. A damaged filter must be replaced before resistance begins to increase. It also needs to be replaced before any manufacturer-recommended period if the filter is damaged or resistance
Certain brands of filters may not be able to be re-used after being exposed to certain conditions such as a full decontamination shower. Specific advice needs to be sought from the supplier regarding the effectiveness of a filter after it has been exposed to a decontamination shower to assist in determining whether it may continue to be used or needs to be disposed of.
General requirements for all asbestos removal
Full or half-face respirator fit check:
- close off inlet to filter
- inhale gently
- hold for 10 seconds
- face piece needs to remain slightly collapsed.
All filters used during asbestos removal work must be disposed of as asbestos waste. Filters must not be cleaned in an effort to extend their life. Tapping of the filter or using compressed air on it can cause damage and reduce the protection it provides. However, gently patting the respirator/filter with a damp cloth to remove any external dust as part of a decontamination process is
The correct filter must be fitted to the face piece otherwise the respirator would not meet relevant standards and may not provide the required protection.
Air-line respirators are only required for certain types of friable asbestos removal work. Therefore, this section is not applicable to permitted unlicensed removal or class B-licensed removal work.
Where air-lines are used, they need to incorporate a backup filter. Where failure of the air supply system occurs, employees need to leave the work area using normal decontamination procedures. The use of a backup filter device allows for adequate respiratory protection during this process.
If the number of employees wearing air-line respirators inside an enclosure is likely to result in the tangling of air-lines, manifolds need to be provided to reduce tangling and assist employees to move around the enclosure. The capacity of the compressor needs to be adequate for the number of air-lines and the location of the compressor’s air intake needs to be assessed to ensure appropriate air quality and avoid contamination.
All employees who undertake any asbestos removal work must receive instruction and training in:
- fit testing/checking
- the importance of a correct facial fit
- the correct method of using their respirators
- the requirements of the system of regular cleaning, inspection and maintenance before they commence work with respirators
- when to stop removal work and leave the area if they think their PPE is not working properly.
Employers must ensure the above training has been understood by employees. Suppliers of respirators can assist with this training.
Respiratory protective devices
The Regulations require an employer or self-employed person performing asbestos removal work to use signs to clearly indicate the area where the removal work is being performed. These signs must be placed so they inform all people nearby that asbestos removal work is taking place in the area.
Signs need to be weatherproof, lightweight and securely situated so they remain in prominent locations such as entry points to the asbestos work area.
In addition to signs, barricades need to be used to indicate the area where the removal work is being performed. Barricades also need to be used to assist in preventing access to the asbestos removal area.
Tools and equipment include asbestos vacuum cleaners, manually operated hand tools (such as chisels, spatulas, brooms and brushes), power tools and spray equipment to suppress airborne dust.
Warning: In any removal job, domestic vacuum cleaners are unsuitable and should never be used even if they have a HEPA filter.
Asbestos vacuum cleaners can only be used for collecting small pieces of asbestos dust and debris. Larger pieces need to be picked up and placed in suitable waste containers. They should never be broken into smaller sizes for
Asbestos vacuum cleaners should not be used for vacuuming wet materials because this can damage the HEPA filter.
The correct attachment to the asbestos vacuum cleaner for the type of surface being cleaned needs to be used. Note that brush attachments are difficult to clean properly.
Procedures need to be established for the general maintenance (including emptying) of asbestos vacuum cleaners in a controlled environment. A competent person wearing the correct PPE needs to empty asbestos vacuum cleaners in a controlled environment and in compliance with the manufacturer’s instructions. It is often more convenient and safer to empty the vacuum cleaner in the asbestos removal area with PPE.
When the asbestos removal work is completed, the vacuum cleaner and attachments need to be decontaminated. If possible, clean the vacuum cleaner’s outer casing and attachments with the vacuum cleaner, followed by damp rags.
Visually inspect the case, hose and attachments then store in a labelled impervious container. Place a cap over the opening to the asbestos vacuum cleaner when the attachments are removed.
When required, remove the bag and filter in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and dispose of them as asbestos waste. Wipe the inside and outside of the vacuum cleaner with damp rags (dispose of rags as asbestos waste after use). The vacuum cleaner needs to be re-sealed in the storage container provided. The sealed storage container then needs to be decontaminated by wet wiping the exterior before being removed from the asbestos work area. In between removal jobs, the vacuum cleaner needs to be isolated to prevent untrained persons using it in an inappropriate manner.
Whenever possible, asbestos vacuum cleaners should not be hired as they can be difficult to fully decontaminate. If hiring is necessary, vacuum cleaners need to be:
- hired only from organisations that provide vacuum cleaners specifically for work with asbestos
- transported in a sealed airtight storage container with instructions that it may be removed only when it is inside the asbestos work area and users are wearing appropriate PPE.
Organisations that hire out asbestos vacuum cleaners must ensure that all their asbestos vacuum cleaners, filters and bags are maintained in good working order. People hiring asbestos vacuum cleaners must be competent to use them safely.
Care needs to be taken in selecting tools for asbestos removal work. In addition to being suitable for the work, all tools need to prevent or minimize the generation and dispersion of airborne asbestos fibers as much as possible.
The Regulations state that a broom, brush, high-pressure water jet, power tool or other similar tool or instrument must not be used on asbestos unless the use is controlled. The control must be in the form of an enclosure, an engineering control or a combination of these so that a person is not likely to be exposed to more than one half of the exposure standard. A person cannot rely on respiratory protection to ensure their exposure is reduced to half the exposure standard. The use of such a tool or instrument may require personal air monitoring to demonstrate that exposure is not likely to exceed half the exposure standard.
In any case, the use of power tools in asbestos removal work needs to be avoided because of the potential generation of airborne asbestos fibers and the possibility of internal contamination of the tool (which commonly occurs with such devices).
Manually operated hand tools are preferred. If they are not adequate, low-speed battery powered tools may be considered. Battery-powered tools fitted with a local exhaust ventilation dust control hood are likely to meet the regulatory requirements.
The use of brooms or brushes in asbestos removal work needs to be avoided because of the potential generation of airborne asbestos fibers. However, if the removal work is within an enclosure the use of brooms or brushes would be appropriate as any airborne dust generated would be captured.
At the end of the removal work, all tools must be: decontaminated (ie fully dismantled and cleaned under controlled conditions placed in sealed containers (to be re-opened at other asbestos removal jobs in the removal area under controlled conditions), or disposed of as asbestos waste.
A constant low-pressure water supply is required for wetting down ACM and related items to suppress airborne asbestos fibers. This can be achieved with a mains-supplied garden hose fitted with a pistol grip. If no water supply is readily available, a portable pressurizer vessel (such as a pump-up garden sprayer) may be used. For very small areas, a small spray water bottle may be sufficient.
In all cases, the use of water needs to be in the form of a mist to minimize the potential to generate airborne dust.
Wet and dry methods of removing ACM
Wherever possible, dry ACM should not be worked on.
Techniques that prevent or minimize the generation of airborne asbestos fibers need to be used. The following methods can assist in preventing or minimizing the generation of airborne asbestos fibers.
Wet spray method (preferred)
A fine water spray needs to be applied to the ACM in a manner that ensures the entire surface of the ACM is saturated but minimizes run-off. It needs to be maintained in a wet condition.
In many instances it is helpful if a wetting agent (surfactant), such as detergent, is added to the water as this facilitates more rapid wetting of the ACM. A manually controlled, consistent low-pressure, fine spray (such as from an adjustable pistol-grip garden hose) is recommended. The design of the spraying equipment will depend on the availability of a water supply and access to the area to be sprayed. While the water spray needs to be copious, it should not be so forceful that the water droplets generate dust when they hit the surface of the ACM. Immediately after the ACM is removed from its fixed/installed position, it should also be sprayed on sides previously not exposed.
When cutting equipment is being used to remove ACM that is friable, the water spray needs to be directed at the site of the cut and the wet material needs to be removed as the cut progresses. The wet ACM needs to be removed in sections, immediately placed in suitably labelled asbestos waste containers and properly sealed. Any small sections that might be dislodged need to be collected and properly disposed of as asbestos waste.
The wet spray method is the preferred removal method. It can only be used however, if: the ACM is not covered with other materials such as calico or metal cladding which require prior removal – in this case the ACM should be wet as the cover is being removed from each section the ACM is not coated with paint or mastic
any rapid temperature drop caused by excessive water will not damage heated metal components no live electrical conductors are present and no damage to electrical equipment can arise from the ingress of water.
Although airborne asbestos fibers are significantly suppressed when the wet spray method is used, they are not entirely eliminated so effective respiratory protection is also essential.
Consideration needs to be given to applying a PVA emulsion as it may be more effective than water (with a wetting agent) in reducing fiber release.
Wherever reasonably practicable, a HEPA-fitted vacuum cleaner needs to be used in conjunction with the wet spray method (eg prior to spraying ACM with water, dust spread over a large area may be collected using the HEPA-fitted vacuum cleaner).
Dry removal method (not preferred)
The dry removal method can only be used if the wet spray method is not suitable (eg if there are live electrical conductors or if major electrical equipment could be permanently damaged or made dangerous by contact with water).
There is a much greater potential for airborne asbestos fibers to be generated with the dry removal method than the wet spray method.
Accordingly, if the dry removal method has to be used, the following controls need to be implemented.
Fully enclose the work area with plastic sheeting (at least 200 micron thick) and maintain at a negative pressure (at least 12 Pa water gauge). Ensure all employees involved in the removal operation wear full-face positive-pressure supplied air-line respirators.
Enclose the removal area as far as reasonably practicable.Both friable and non-friable removal.
The ACM needs to be removed in small, pre-cut sections with minimal disturbance to reduce the generation of airborne asbestos fibers as much as possible. Wherever reasonably practicable, a HEPA-fitted vacuum cleaner needs to be used and waste material needs to be immediately placed in appropriate wet containers.
This method involves injecting water or a water-based solution directly into friable ACM. It is a process that requires specific training in relation to the use of the equipment and the process.
Decontamination facilities are required for: decontaminating the work area decontaminating tools and equipment personal decontamination.
Asbestos-contaminated dust and debris must be collected in a safe manner and the asbestos removal area must be decontaminated (paying particular attention to walls, ledges, fittings and furnishings). Two types of decontamination procedures may be used – wet and dry decontamination.
Wet decontamination (or wet/damp wiping) involves the use of damp rags to collect settled dust. Similar to the wet spray method, this method of decontamination needs to be used in combination with a dry decontamination method.
A HEPA-fitted vacuum cleaner may be used initially to clean the area, followed by damp rags to collect any residual dust. For very small non-friable removal work, use of damp rags alone may be adequate. Employees must be trained in an appropriate procedure to ensure dust is collected and disposed of correctly (and not distributed elsewhere).
Wet wiping may be used in an area that is isolated where employees are wearing appropriate PPE and bigger pieces of debris have been picked up and placed in waste containers. Cotton rags that do not leave bits on clean surfaces may be soaked in a bucket of water, folded in half or quarters and wrung out. The rag can then be used to wipe the contaminated surface and may be re-folded so a clean surface of the rag is used (this may be repeated until all clean surfaces of the rag are used). All used rags must be disposed of as asbestos waste. Care needs to be taken to avoid any potential electrical hazards.
Dry decontamination can only be used where wet methods are not suitable or pose a risk because of other hazards such as electricity or slipping. Dry decontamination procedures include carefully rolling or folding up plastic sheeting and/or vacuuming the asbestos work area with a HEPA-fitted vacuum cleaner. Employees must be trained in an appropriate procedure to ensure dust is collected and disposed of.
Vacuuming may be used in an area that is isolated and where employees are wearing appropriate PPE. Bigger pieces of debris need to be wet, picked up by hand and placed in waste containers.
All tools and equipment used during the removal task must be decontaminated using either the wet or dry decontamination procedures before they are removed from the asbestos removal area. Otherwise they need to be double bagged for later use or disposed of as asbestos-contaminated waste. The method chosen will depend on its practicality, the level of contamination and the presence of any electrical hazards.
If tools and equipment cannot be decontaminated in the asbestos removal area and are to be re-used at another asbestos removal area, they need to: be tagged to indicate asbestos contamination be double bagged in clearly labelled asbestos bags with an appropriate warning statement before being removed from the asbestos removal area remain sealed until they have been decontaminated or the commencement of the next asbestos removal/maintenance task (where the equipment can be taken into the removal area and re-used under controlled conditions).
PPE needs to be worn when opening the bag to clean or re-use the equipment or tools and decontamination can only be performed in a controlled environment. In some circumstances it may be better to dispose of contaminated tools and equipment depending on the level of contamination and the ease of replacement.
Employers have a legal duty to provide, so far as is reasonably practicable, adequate facilities for the welfare of employees at any workplace under the management and control of the employer. Such facilities may include personal decontamination facilities. The provision of decontamination facilities is essential for asbestos removal work.
Employers must provide appropriate personal decontamination facilities for the duration of the removal work. The type of decontamination required will depend on the type and condition of asbestos (ie friable or non-friable), the work method used and site conditions. Some asbestos removal work necessitates the use of decontamination units.
WorkSafe’s Workplace amenities and work environment compliance code states that employees who undertake work which requires strenuous effort, involves possible exposure to infectious agents or other contaminants or leaves them dirty or smelly, need to have access to showers before leaving work.
This means that even though the asbestos removal aspect of the work may not require personal decontamination to include decontamination units access to showers before leaving work may still be required. Personal washing and hygiene are essential (particular attention needs to be paid to the hands, fingernails, face and head).
Personal decontamination must be undertaken each time employees leave the asbestos work area. Personal decontamination needs to be performed within the asbestos work area where re-contamination cannot occur.
Asbestos-contaminated personal protective clothing should not be transported outside the asbestos removal area except for disposal or laundering purposes.
Before personal protective clothing and footwear worn during asbestos removal work are removed, they need to be decontaminated to the point where the generation of airborne dust from the subsequent handling of the clothing and footwear is minimized. This preferably needs to be done by vacuuming with a HEPA-fitted vacuum cleaner to remove any asbestos fibers.
Footwear also needs to be wet-wiped.
Respiratory protective equipment can only be removed after: decontaminating personal protective clothing and footwear
(as described above) bagging personal protective clothing for disposal (or laundering) completing personal washing.
Any contaminated PPE used while carrying out asbestos removal work must not be taken home.
For the purpose of this section, a small quantity of non-friable ACM is: any quantity permitted to be removed by an unlicensed person
ACM cladding on an average size house.
Where small quantities of non-friable ACM are being removed, a competent person may decide that the personal decontamination procedure can safely be used instead of a full decontamination unit.
This decision is made based on a risk assessment that takes into account the: condition of the ACM difficulty in performing the removal level of airborne dust likely to be generated available cleaning/washing facilities at the site duration of the task.
In some cases (particularly dusty jobs), double coveralls need to be used with the outer coverall being removed a predetermined distance from the final decontamination area.
Establish a decontamination area. This area needs to be selected so that it: is isolated from the asbestos removal work area
includes sufficient space for equipment for decontamination has access routes that allow persons to leave the asbestos removal work area and do not require them to re-enter it after personal decontamination.
Workers need to decontaminate every time they leave the asbestos removal work area. Remove all visible asbestos dust/residue from protective clothing and footwear using an asbestos vacuum cleaner and/or wet wiping with a damp rag. Use damp rags with a gentle patting action (rubbing can disturb fibers) or spray overalls with a fine mist spray to suppress the dust. Where there are two employees, they can help clean each other.
Carefully peel off disposable coveralls (while still wearing the respirator).
They need to be peeled off inside out and then placed in an asbestos-waste container. Footwear needs to be wet-wiped.
If non-disposable coveralls are used, they need to be completely wet before being double bagged, labelled and sent to an appropriate laundering facility.
Remove and place disposable respirators into an asbestos-waste container.
If non-disposable respirators are used, they need to be gently patted with a damp rag while still being worn. The rag then needs to be placed into and asbestos-waste container and the respirator removed and thoroughly cleaned.
The respirator must only be removed after coveralls are removed and bagged.
After removing the respirator, workers need to wash their face and hands, paying particular attention to their fingernails.
If site washing facilities are used, restrict access by other people during asbestos removal work. Clean washing facilities daily and at the end of the job with wet rags. Inspect the facilities once the job is finished to ensure the area is clean.
The above method of personal decontamination might be suitable after the removal of the following non-friable ACM: an asbestos (Zelemite) electrical switchboard small amounts of asbestos cement sheeting (covering an average house) or vinyl floor covering minor amounts of asbestos debris asbestos cement conduits and in ground surface pits.
However, where these forms of ACM are friable, more extensive decontamination procedures are required. The measures adopted need to be based on a risk assessment where the risks of each individual asbestos removal job are assessed to determine the appropriate decontamination procedure.
The person performing the removal work must have a system of work for containing and disposing of the asbestos waste, no matter how big or small the removal work is.
A waste disposal program needs to be developed, taking account of the containment of waste so as to eliminate the release of airborne asbestos fibers the location and security of waste storage on site the transport of waste within the site and off site the location of the waste disposal site approvals needed from the relevant local disposal authority any local disposal authority requirements that may apply to the amount and dimensions of asbestos waste.
Loose asbestos waste must not be allowed to accumulate within the asbestos work area. It must be contained so as to eliminate the release of airborne asbestos fibers. This may be achieved by the use of double bags or polythene sheeting, a polythene-lined drum or bin or a double-lined skip.
Only unused bags and polythene sheeting can be used. Bags marked for asbestos waste should not be used for any other purpose.
Controlled wetting of the asbestos waste must be carried out to reduce asbestos-dust emissions during bag/polythene sealing or any subsequent rupture of the bag or wrapped bundles.
The external surface of each waste container (ie bag or wrapped bundle) must be decontaminated/cleaned to remove any dust before the container is removed from the asbestos removal area.
The routes to be used for removing waste from the asbestos removal area need to be designated before the commencement of each removal, preferably as part of the asbestos removal control plan. The methods used to transport waste through a building need to be determined by a competent person following discussions with the asbestos removalist. In occupied buildings, all movement of waste containers through a building need to take place outside normal working hours.
Once the waste has been removed from the asbestos removal area, it must either be: placed in a solid waste drum, bin or skip for secure storage and eventual disposal, or immediately removed from the site by an licensed carrier for disposal.
Waste containers must not be stored at the asbestos removal site if they are not contained to eliminate the release of airborne asbestos fibers (eg within locked solid containers such as drums, bins, skips or in containers within locked areas). Containers must also be labelled to indicate the presence of asbestos.
Prior to packaging the asbestos, the site to which the waste is to be taken needs to be contacted to establish any specific packaging requirements they may have.
If anything is to be taken out of the removal work area for re-use, the items must be inspected by a competent person to establish there is no residual asbestos on the items. Items may include a structural beam previously covered with sprayed asbestos or light fixtures from an asbestos-contaminated ceiling.
Generally where drums or bins are required for containing asbestos waste, the amount of ACM removed would be greater than 10 square metres.
Therefore, a licensed removalist would be required to perform this work.
Asbestos waste, such as friable ACM and small pieces of non-friable ACM, needs to be contained in heavy-duty 200 micron (minimum thickness) polythene bags that are no more than 1200mm-long and 900mm-wide.
Hard and sharp asbestos waste requires preliminary sealing or a protective covering before it is placed in a waste bag to minimize the risk of damage to the bags.
To further minimize the risk of a bag tearing or splitting and to assist in manual handling, asbestos waste bags should not be filled more than half full and excess air needs to be gently evacuated from the waste bag in a way that does not cause the release of dust. Depending on the weight of the items placed in the bag, half filling a bag may be excessive.
All asbestos waste needs to be double bagged outside the removal areas immediately following the decontamination process. The bags then need to be twisted tightly and have the neck folded over and secured with adhesive tape (referred to as goose-necking).
If a decontamination unit is being used for the asbestos removal work, asbestos waste bags need to be removed using the following ‘production line’ operation:
One worker is located in each section of the decontamination unit.
The waste bags are passed from cubicle to cubicle and ‘showered out’ to remove any asbestos residue.
Once they have been removed from the decontamination unit, the waste bags are double bagged prior to disposal.
Asbestos, such as asbestos sheeting and redundant asbestos lagged pipes and equipment, needs to be contained in heavy-duty 200 micron (minimum thickness) polythene sheeting.
Asbestos sheeting needs to be bundled securely. These bundles and redundant asbestos lagged pipes and equipment need to be double wrapped in the polythene sheeting and adhesive tape needs to be used to tape the entire length of every overlap. Wrapped bundles of asbestos sheeting and redundant asbestos lagged pipes and equipment need be of a size that minimizes the risk of the polythene sheeting tearing or splitting and/or a manual handling injury
Asbestos waste must be disposed of as soon as is reasonably practicable.
Generally, this means the asbestos waste must be disposed of at the end of the removal job or when the waste containers are full. It must also be disposed of at the end of each day if waste on the removal site cannot be secured (that is untrained/unprotected people can come into contact with the waste). Where waste can be secured, it also needs to be labelled to indicate that it contains asbestos waste.
In some cases, very small quantities of waste may be brought back to a central location where the waste is stored in a labelled, secure container. This container is then taken to an EPA Victoria-licensed asbestos waste disposal site once it is full. This approach may be appropriate where a company, such as a utilities company, occasionally removes small quantities of ACM (eg electric meter boards) or a licensed removalist has removed a very small quantity of ACM (eg two square meters). EPA Victoria should be contacted to establish whether such storage, until disposal, is acceptable.
Anyone removing asbestos needs to first establish the specific waste disposal site’s requirements for packaging the asbestos waste otherwise it may not be accepted. All asbestos waste must be removed from the workplace by a competent person and transported and disposed of in accordance with the
Regulations and EPA Victoria requirements. Asbestos waste must be disposed of at an EPA Victoria-licensed asbestos waste disposal site and disposal must be carried out in a manner that eliminates the release of airborne asbestos fibers, which means ensuring: asbestos waste is securely packaged in containers waste containers are secure during transport the method of unloading the waste is safe.
A first aid kit and first aid officer need to be readily available at all times.
A sufficient number of suitable fire extinguishers and hoses also need to be available at strategic locations. The locations of fire extinguishers and hoses need to be displayed in written and/or graphic format and conveyed to all employees and relevant persons.
Below identifies the duties required to be met by licensed asbestos removalists and by persons permitted to carry out limited removal work without a licence. These requirements relate to the removal of asbestos that is fixed or installed in a building, structure, ship or plant so that it is no longer fixed or installed up to the point of containment.
The removal of asbestos that is not fixed or installed from a workplace must be carried out safely and in accordance with the Regulations. If the removal constitutes a minor contamination the person should implement the requirements for limited permitted removal.
MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL
Exposure to asbestos can cause a range of debilitating medical conditions affecting the respiratory system, including mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. Many asbestos-related conditions are life threatening or associated with a marked reduction in life expectancy.
Clothing contaminated with asbestos must not be removed from the workplace except for disposal or laundering. When clothing is removed from the workplace to be laundered, it should be placed in two 200 micron-thick plastic bags (ie double bagged) and labelled to identify the presence of asbestos. Clothing needs to be wet down before bagging to minimize the potential for airborne dust to be generated when the bag is re-opened. The launderer must be told about the potential for asbestos contamination on the clothing prior to arrival at the laundry.
The use of brooms, brushes (except where the brush is used for sealing), high-pressure water jets, power tools or similar tools or instruments on asbestos in workplaces is prohibited unless use is controlled to ensure a person’s exposure does not exceed half the asbestos exposure standard.
To verify half the exposure standard is not exceeded, personal air monitoring would be required.
Asbestos exposure standard:
0·1 f/ml of air measured in a person’s breathing zone and expressed as a time weighted average fiber concentration of asbestos calculated over an eight-hour working day and measured over a minimum period of four hours in accordance with:
(a) the membrane filter method, or
(b) a method determined by WorkSafe.
Acceptable control measures include:
- enclosing the tool or instrument
- engineering controls such as extraction ventilation, or
- a combination of these.
For example, a broom must not be used to collect debris associated with an asbestos cement removal process as exposure may exceed half the exposure standard. There are other collection methods that would reduce exposure to airborne asbestos fibers as far as is reasonably practicable, such as using a vacuum cleaner fitted with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Use of a HEPA-fitted vacuum cleaner is an engineering control and ensures a person’s exposure does not exceed half the exposure standard.
Respiratory protection must not be relied on to ensure half the exposure standard is not exceeded. If a respirator is required to reduce the exposure to below half the exposure standard, there is not adequate control and the tool or instrument must not be used.
Note: This provision does not apply however to the removal of ACM within an enclosed removal area.
Where a power tool (such as a HEPA-fitted vacuum cleaner) is permitted to be used, it must be appropriately decontaminated, disposed of or sealed in airtight containers that are not used for any other purpose unless cleaned under controlled conditions.
The use of compressed air and other gases on asbestos is prohibited:
- in areas that are not enclosed to prevent the release of airborne asbestos fibers
- within six meters of an activity involving asbestos unless it can be demonstrated the use of that air or gas does not result in airborne asbestos fibers above half the exposure standard.
For example, using compressed air to clean/dislodge asbestos-contaminated dust from a difficult-to-access area (that is not enclosed) is prohibited. Use of compressed air within asbestos removal enclosures is not recommended.
The use of a pneumatic (compressed air powered) tool within six meters of any activity involving asbestos is only allowed if it can be shown that airborne asbestos fibers above half the exposure standard will not be produced.
Atmospheric monitoring in the area during the task is the only method to demonstrate half the exposure standard will not be exceeded. If atmospheric monitoring is done, all persons in the area must wear at least a P1 particulate respirator in case asbestos fibers become airborne.
It is the duty of the employer or self-employed person who is conducting the work in the domestic premises to identify the presence of asbestos.
Friable asbestos: Asbestos material which, when dry, can be crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder by hand pressure; or as a result of a work process, may become such that it can be crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder by hand pressure.
Non-friable asbestos: When dry, non-friable asbestos cannot be crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder by hand pressure.
Asbestos-contaminated dust is dust that has settled within the workplace and is, or is assumed to be, contaminated with asbestos. Asbestos-contaminated dust is not captured under the definition of friable asbestos and is therefore considered separately. However, because there is a potential risk to health from exposure to airborne asbestos fibers from asbestos-contaminated dust, its removal is regulated under the Dangerous Goods Order.
Example of asbestos-contaminated dust
- Dust surrounding an asbestos cement flue.
- Dust on horizontal surfaces below an asbestos cement roof.
- Dust in an electrical switchboard cupboard which has asbestos-backed panels.
The removal job starts as soon as respiratory protection is required to be worn by persons who will remove (ie collect/clean-up) the asbestos.
The removal job is finished when respiratory protection is no longer required to be worn as part of the removal task.
Planning is essential as any misunderstanding could lead to the use of unsafe removal methods and potentially endanger the health of asbestos removal workers, people in adjoining properties and local residents.
Where asbestos removal work is to take place at a domestic premises by a licensed removalist, it is the licensed removalist’s duty to inform all employers in the immediate and adjacent areas of the proposed removal work.
An immediate and adjacent area is an area where the removal work will take place, adjoin or directly face the asbestos removal site. This may include the building next door. Informing employers in these areas enables them to inform their employees and make appropriate arrangements to prevent people from approaching these areas if necessary.
Where the removal work is to be performed at domestic premises, an asbestos register will not be available. At such premises there is a duty on the employer or self-employed person performing the demolition or refurbishment to determine whether asbestos is fixed or installed on the premises. Where a homeowner has engaged a removalist to remove some asbestos cement sheeting, the duty is the removalists. Where a company has bought the house and is to demolish them in preparation for townhouses, the duty lies with the company.
What is an asbestos register and what must be in it?
An asbestos register contains information about the asbestos that has been identified in the workplace. A person who manages or controls a workplace where asbestos is present must have an asbestos register. In addition, an employer in the workplace who has management or control over any structures or plant that contain asbestos must also have an asbestos register.
There is no mandatory format that the register must follow. However, it must
include the following:
- information required as part of the identification of asbestos, including:
– the location of the asbestos
– the likely source of unfixed or uninstalled asbestos
– the type of ACM
– whether the asbestos is friable or non-friable
– the condition of the ACM
– whether the ACM is likely to be damaged or disturbed
- details of all inaccessible areas likely to contain asbestos
- detailed information about activities carried out in the workplace
that are likely to disturb the asbestos
- dates when the identification and risk assessment were made.
An employer or self-employed person must determine whether the asbestosr removal work falls within the meaning of high-risk construction work as defined by the Regulations. If it does, a safe work method statement is required. For licensed removal work the preparation of a control plan is taken to be the equivalent of a safe work method statement, therefore a safe work method statement is not required in relation to asbestos removal. However, if there are activities other than asbestos removal that fall within the meaning of high-risk construction work, a safe work method statement addressing those other activities must be completed. A reference in the safe work method statement to the asbestos control plan would be useful.
An employer or self-employed person performing asbestos removal work must ensure this work is performed in a manner that, so far as is reasonably practicable:
- eliminates the release of airborne asbestos fibers
- prevents the contamination of areas adjacent to the asbestos removal area.
This requires planning to ensure methods of removal are used that minimize the generation of airborne asbestos fibers whether or not the removal is to be performed within an enclosure.
Such methods need to include:
- hand tools in preference to power tools
- careful unfixing of ACM
- wet methods such as a fine water mist spray and damp rags wherever practicable.
- A fine mist water spray may need to be applied at regular intervals during the day (particularly in warm weather) to ensure dust remains suppressed. High pressure water must not be used because this would generate airborne asbestos fibers, spread the asbestos beyond the work area and make clean-up more difficult.
- drop sheets to collect asbestos-containing debris.
Adjacent areas where there is potential (or any uncertainty about the potential) for contamination must be well isolated to prevent access by persons not directly associated with the asbestos removal work. In a multi-story building this may mean isolating the entire floor and floors directly above and below where asbestos removal is to take place.
All persons performing asbestos removal work must receive information, instruction and training to enable them to perform the work safely and without risk to health. This includes training about:
- the nature of the hazard
– how asbestos can affect a person’s health
– the added dangers of smoking
- the risk from exposure to airborne asbestos fibers
– appropriate controls
– what methods and equipment will do the job properly
– how to choose, use and look after personal protective equipment
– decontamination of persons, equipment and the work area
– waste disposal
– emergency procedures
- maintenance of controls
- what the law requires.
A record of the training for each person performing the asbestos removal work must be readily available at the removal site. This is the responsibility of the licensed removalist. It may not be adequate to rely on individual employees to bring their training records to each job.
The control plan
The asbestos removal control plan needs to be finalized in consultation with: persons who will perform the removal work the person who engaged the removalist any other relevant parties such as an occupational hygienist who has knowledge and experience in asbestos removal.
Where high-risk construction work is to take place the employer must complete a safe work method statement before the work commences and ensure the work is performed in accordance with that statement. Therefore, where it has been determined that construction work is to take place and asbestos removal will also be occurring as part of that construction work, a safe work method statement is required.
However, if there are activities other than asbestos removal that fall within the meaning of high-risk construction work, a safe work method statement addressing those other activities must be completed. For example, where an asbestos cement roof is to be removed, a control plan must be completed (in relation to the asbestos removal work) and a safe work method statement must be completed in relation to the risk of persons falling more than two meters.
A non-licensed person performing removal permitted under the regulations could also use this checklist or develop and implement a control plan to assist in controlling risks.
Signs and barricades
Use signs and barricades to clearly indicate the area where the removal work is being performed. These signs must be placed to inform all people nearby that asbestos removal work is taking place in that area.
Signs need to be weatherproof, lightweight and securely situated so that they remain in prominent locations (such as entry points to the asbestos work area).
Barricades can take various forms, from tape to solid hoarding. Tape may be appropriate for non-friable asbestos removal jobs of short duration. The type of barricading needs to reflect the level of risk. For friable asbestos removal jobs, solid barricades need to be used.
The location of barricades will depend on the physical environment and the level of risk. A risk assessment needs to be conducted to determine the appropriate placement of barricades. A non-friable asbestos cement removal job where the asbestos cement is in good condition may use a wall located three meters from the removal area as the barrier. A friable sprayed asbestos removal job being performed dry due to electrical restrictions may require a barricade 15 meters from the removal area.
The decontamination unit
Decontamination units are generally required for all friable asbestos removal jobs other than ‘wrap and cut’, ‘glove bag’ and gasket removals. Non-friable asbestos removal jobs of a certain size (eg where the ACM to be removed is greater than that contained in the cladding of an average size house) may also require the use of decontamination units. A risk assessment needs to be conducted to determine this while also taking into account the condition of the ACM difficulty in performing the removal level of airborne dust likely to be generated available cleaning/washing facilities at the site duration of the task.
Where men and women are required to use the same decontamination unit, a system of work needs be implemented to enable them to access the unit. In many instances, the only satisfactory way of providing appropriate changing facilities is to provide a mobile or specially constructed on-site decontamination.
This decontamination unit needs be immediately adjacent to and directly connected with the enclosed asbestos work area. It needs to be located as far away as practicable from amenities and lunch rooms. The decontamination unit needs to be divided into three distinct areas:
dirty decontamination area
clean decontamination area
clean changing area.
All of these areas need be large enough to enable employees to adequately decontaminate themselves.
These areas need to be separated by suitable airlocks or buffer zones. Normallythese airlocks have spring-loaded doors or two or more overlapping sheets of plastic sheet that are positioned to define the boundary between each segment of the decontamination unit while allowing access and airflow towards the asbestos work area. To ensure there is sufficient airflow through the decontamination unit, doors (if used) need to have large openings with a hinged flap operating as a one-way valve.
The employer must provide towels and soap to allow employees to appropriately decontaminate themselves. The employer needs to assess each removal job to determine the number of decontamination units required. As a guide, one decontamination unit needs to be provided for every six employees in the removal area.
The dirty decontamination area needs to include:
a suitable rack for air-lines to be stored on at the entrance of the area equipment for vacuum cleaning or hosing down (by use of a fine mist) of contaminated clothing and footwear storage for contaminated clothing and footwear labelled waste bags/bins for disposing of protective clothing shower area with an adequate supply of hot and cold water and toiletries.
The clean decontamination area needs to include: Storage for individual respirators in containers or lockers airflow towards the dirty decontamination area shower area with an adequate supply of hot and cold water and toiletries.
The clean changing area needs to include:
Storage for clean clothing separate storage for clean and dirty towels airflow towards the clean decontamination area.
All water from the decontamination facility needs to pass through a particulate filter or other trap before it passes into sewer mains. The filter or trap needs to be capable of capturing particles down to five micron. Workers must not smoke, eat or drink in any part of the decontamination unit.
Use of remote decontamination units
Remote decontamination units are decontamination units not located next to the asbestos removal area. They can only be used if a decontamination unit cannot be located immediately adjacent to the asbestos removal area.
When a remote decontamination unit is to be used, the asbestos removalist would need to implement additional procedures to minimize asbestos contamination.
This may include wearing double coveralls, partial decontamination at the removal site and methods for the connection and disconnection of air-line respirators.
The route of access from the asbestos removal area to the decontamination unit needs to be suitably signposted and barricaded to restrict public access.
Para occupational air monitoring must be conducted in the immediate vicinity of this access route and at other suitable locations outside the asbestos removal area.
An isolated changing area needs to be attached to the asbestos removal area.
Before employees enter this changing area, all obvious signs of asbestos dust need to be removed from their protective clothing using an asbestos vacuum cleaner. The isolated changing area is then used to discard outer garments, including coveralls and overshoes before employees can put on fresh outer/protective clothing for the journey to the decontamination unit.
Respiratory protection needs to be worn until the appropriate phase of the decontamination procedure within the remote decontamination unit.
Change into clean work clothes and put on clean protective clothing. Store any removed clothing in a dust-proof container. Pass through the airlock into the clean decontamination area.
Clean decontamination area: Put on respirator. Check that it is working properly and there is a good facial seal (ie fit check). Move to the dirty decontamination area.
Dirty decontamination area: Put on any additional protective equipment that has been stored in the dirty decontamination area such as footwear. Connect to the air supply if required. Move from the decontamination unit to the asbestos work area.
Leaving the asbestos removal area
Use an asbestos vacuum cleaner to remove any obvious signs of asbestos dust from protective clothing. Remove footwear and leave shoes/boots inside the asbestos removal area next to the decontamination unit (footwear needs to be stored upside down to minimize further contamination). Proceed into the dirty decontamination area.
Dirty decontamination area: If shoes/boots have not already been removed, remove them and store upside down within the dirty decontamination area.
Disconnect air-line respirator if being used. Shower while wearing protective clothing and respirator. Leaving the respirator on, remove protective clothing and place in labelled waste bags. Remove wet underclothing, such as t-shirts or shorts, while showering and place in the storage unit provided within the dirty decontamination area. Pass through the airlock into the clean decontamination area.
Clean decontamination area: Shower and remove respirator. Thoroughly wash hands, fingernails, face, head and respirator. Store respirator in a suitable container within the clean decontamination area. Move to the clean change area.
Clean change area: Change into clean clothing.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) including footwear should not be shared.
This equipment needs to be thoroughly cleaned as there is a risk of contracting respiratory problems and tinea in such circumstances.
Asbestos waste containment and disposal
All drums or bins used for the storage and disposal of asbestos waste need to be in good condition with lids and rims in good working order and free of hazardous residue.
The drums or bins need to be lined with plastic (minimum 200 micron thickness) and labels warning of the asbestos waste must be placed on the exterior of each drum or bin.
If the drum or bin is to be re-used, the asbestos waste must be packed and sealed so that when the drum or bin is emptied there is no residual asbestos contamination. The drum or bin needs to be inspected after use to ensure there is no asbestos residue.
Where possible, the drums or bins need to be placed in the asbestos work area before work on ACM begins. Controlled wetting of the waste during drum or bin filling needs to be carried out to reduce asbestos dust emissions. The drums or bins need to have their rims sealed and their outer surfaces wet-wiped and inspected before they are removed from the asbestos work area.
If it is not possible to locate the drums or bins inside the asbestos work area, they need to be located as close to the work area as possible. Routes for moving the waste from the asbestos work area to the waste drums or bins need to be designated prior to the commencement of each task. A competent person needs to decide the best means of moving the waste through the building.
In occupied buildings, all movement of bags from the work area to the waste drums or bins needs to be performed outside of normal working hours.
Drums or bins used to store asbestos waste must be stored in a secure location when they are not in use. They should not be moved manually once they have been filled. Trolleys or drum lifters need to be used.
Asbestos waste skips, vehicle trays and similar containers
If it is not feasible to use asbestos waste bags, drums or bins because of the volume or size of the asbestos waste, a waste skip, vehicle tray or similar container may be used (needs to be in good condition).
The ACM needs to be sealed in double-lined, heavy-duty plastic sheeting or double bagged before it is placed in the skip. However, non-friable asbestos waste may be placed directly into a skip or vehicle tray that has been double-lined with heavy-duty plastic sheeting (200 micron minimum thickness) provided it is kept damp to minimize the generation of airborne asbestos fibers.
Consideration needs to be given to how the skip will be emptied at the waste disposal site to minimize the risk of the plastic lining the skip tearing.
Once the skip is full, its contents need to be completely sealed with the plastic sheeting.
If asbestos waste cannot be disposed of immediately, the skip may be used for storing the asbestos waste on site over a period of time, but only if its contents are secured (eg using a lockable lid or locating the skip in a secure area) to prevent unauthorized access. Overlaying and taping down plastic in a skip is not adequate. If the waste cannot be secured on site, it must not be left on site.
Laundering of contaminated clothing.
Use of non-disposable coveralls for asbestos removal work is not preferred (refer to ‘Personal protective equipment’ on page 25). However, any employer or self-employed person removing asbestos using non-disposable coveralls and any other personal protective clothing must provide for its laundering
if the clothing is likely to be contaminated with asbestos and it is not contained and disposed of as asbestos waste.
Visible dust on personal protective clothing is a strong indication of asbestos contamination. However, absence of visible dust does not mean there is no contamination.
Contaminated clothing needs to be removed damp and immediately be made thoroughly wet, then placed in impermeable containers with labels to identify that the container holds asbestos-contaminated clothing. Where the containers used are bags, they must be double bagged. The containers need to then be provided to an appropriate laundering facility, which has been notified in advance of the presence of asbestos contamination on the clothing.
The laundering facility needs be constructed of smooth surfaces that are able to be lined with polythene sheeting. Procedures need to be established for cleaning up spills. Flooding of neighboring areas needs to be prevented.
Laundering must be carried out in a manner that eliminates, so far as is reasonably practicable, the release of airborne asbestos fibers. This may be achieved by placing the laundering room under negative pressure.
Conventional washing machines may be used provided they are not used for other clothing. The clothing to be laundered should not be allowed to dry out before it is washed. Bags of asbestos-contaminated clothing need be opened in the washing machine while being further saturated with water to minimize airborne dust. As a minimum, P1 respiratory protection needs to be worn while unloading clothes into the washing machine.
The containers/bags need to be disposed of as asbestos waste. Waste water needs to be filtered and the filtering medium disposed of as asbestos waste.
Random air monitoring needs to be carried out to confirm employees are not being exposed to asbestos.
If possible, the removal of asbestos from hot metal or machinery needs to be scheduled and planned around shutdowns with sufficient time allowed for the metal/machinery to cool.
Machinery needs to be cool before removal is attempted. The removal of friable ACM from hot metal presents one of the worst conditions for removal because airborne asbestos fibers can readily spread on convection currents in the air and the potential for burns is high. In addition, the use of fine water sprays may not be possible as steam may be created that would make the removal task more difficult. Hot metal removal can only be performed in emergency situations. There may be other circumstances under which such removal work may take place. However, a person competent in heat stress issues needs to be consulted when making this decision.
The person who has management and control of the workplace needs to make every attempt to arrange for the removal work to be done during periods when surfaces are not hot.
In the limited circumstances where the dry removal of ACM from hot surfaces is the only option (eg emergency situations), particular care needs to be taken in the selection of dust extraction equipment to cope with the convection currents involved. The selection of appropriate PPE also becomes much more important.
Heat stress must be considered when preparing the asbestos removal control plan, particularly in the selection of PPE and the design of the work program (eg sufficient rest breaks and the provision of cool drinking water).
General methods for the removal of friable ACM
Friable asbestos removal work generally involves establishing an enclosure with a negative pressure exhaust unit and full decontamination unit attached to the enclosure. There are exceptions generally relating to small-scale removal such as glove bag removals, mini-enclosure removals and wrap and cut removals.
The methods used to remove ACM must prevent the release of asbestos fibres into the atmosphere both during and after the removal operation.
The appropriate removal method will therefore depend on the nature, condition, quantity and location of the ACM and any other health or safety hazards present.
Friable ACM needs to be removed using wet methods within an enclosed area so far as is reasonably practicable.
- all ventilation and air conditioning networks servicing the asbestos removal area need to be closed down for the duration of the asbestos removal work and all vents thoroughly sealed to prevent the entry of airborne asbestos fibers into the duct network
- on completion and after final cleaning of the asbestos work area, all mechanical ventilation filters for recirculated air need to be replaced prior
- care needs to be taken to ensure that airborne asbestos fibres cannot escape at points where pipes and conduits pass out of the asbestos work area (greater attention to sealing and testing is required at these points, particularly if service riser shafts pass through the asbestos removal area).
The methods and equipment described below are commonly used for the removal of sprayed asbestos thermal and acoustic insulation from buildings and structures and the removal of ACM from plant and equipment, including steam pipes, boilers and other industrial plant.
Large-scale Removal Work Enclosures
A licence holder must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the area where the asbestos removal work is performed is enclosed so as to prevent the release of airborne asbestos fibers (this area is sometimes referred to as the ‘bubble’).
In most cases of friable asbestos removal work it will be practicable to enclose the removal area. In nearly all cases it will be practicable to establish enclosed asbestos removal work areas under ‘negative pressure’ for any large-scale removal of friable ACM.
The design and installation of the enclosure needs to take account of:
- the methods used to contain the asbestos work area
- the provision and locations of decontamination/changing facilities and negative pressure exhaust units
- the precautions that must be implemented to prevent the spread of asbestos contamination outside the asbestos removal area
- air quality within the enclosure (eg there must always be sufficient oxygen and machinery emitting any fumes or potentially dangerous gases needs to be placed outside the enclosure well away from any air intake for the enclosure)
- the temperature within the enclosure (especially to avoid heat stress)
- any other hazards in the enclosure (these must be identified and the risks controlled before any asbestos removal work commences).
Work methods may also need to be adapted for the work environment within the enclosure. For example, rest breaks need to be based on a risk assessment taking into account factors such as the weather and heating/cooling
Heavy-duty plastic sheeting (200 micron minimum thickness) needs to be used for the enclosure. Re-milled plastic sheeting should not be used.
Every location where the asbestos work area connects either to the outside environment or to the rest of the building (eg windows, ducts, wall cavities, conduits and lift entrances) needs to be enclosed so that an airtight seal is maintained for the duration of the asbestos removal work.
The plastic sheeting needs to enclose all the walls, windows and doors.
Wooden cleats may be able to be used to anchor the plastic sheeting to walls.
Viewing panels need to be placed in appropriate locations so that the work area can be seen from outside the enclosure.
Adequate lighting needs to be provided within the enclosure, either:
- naturally, using clear plastic or perspex panels in the enclosure walls, or
- artificially, preferably from outside the enclosure using clear plastic or
- perspex panels (lights within an enclosure can increase the temperature within the enclosure).
All non-movable items (eg fixtures and fittings) need to be covered with plastic sheeting and all the joints sealed.
All movable items need to be removed from the asbestos removal area. If this is not possible, they need to be moved to a convenient location and covered with two layers of plastic sheeting with a minimum overlap of 300mm between the layers. Both layers need to be double taped.
Airlocks need to be provided at the entry points to the change area. They need to be constructed using double sets of overlapping plastic with suitable provisions for ensuring a seal.
Specific requirements for removal of friable ACM
All floors need to be protected with at least one layer of woven plastic.
This is important for penetration to be prevented. The joints need to be taped 300mm and sealed with double-sided tape and duct tape.
If the asbestos removal area is next to areas occupied by unprotected persons priority needs to be given to:
- performing the removal work during periods when these areas are
- greater isolation of the removal area (preferable).
Consideration needs to be given to the use of hoarding to form a barrier between the asbestos removal area and the adjoining occupied areas.
A plastic-lined barrier needs to be erected within this hoarding and a buffer area needs to be reserved between the hoarding and occupied areas.
Any platforms and fixed scaffolding required for the safe removal of the ACM needs to be erected during the early stages of the work. Ideally these structures need to be erected on the outside of the enclosed area. However, where it is necessary to construct platforms or fixed scaffolding within the enclosed area, decontamination and visual inspection of these structures will be necessary at the end of the removal work.
During the masking up and later removal of the screening, all persons involved need to wear appropriate PPE. This needs to include coveralls and as a minimum, a half-face respirator with a P1 filter.
All tools and equipment used for removal work, including asbestos vacuum cleaners, need to remain within the asbestos work area until the completion of the removal work. When this equipment is removed it must be decontaminated as described in ‘Decontamination facilities and methods’ on page 33.
All the plastic and tape used for the enclosure must be disposed of as asbestos waste. Any temporary structures used within the enclosure must also be disposed of as asbestos waste if they cannot be decontaminated and inspected by a competent person to confirm they are free of any visible asbestos.
Testing the effectiveness of the enclosure
When the asbestos removalist is satisfied that the enclosure is complete, a competent independent person needs to carry out a visual inspection and smoke test the enclosure prior to the commencement of the asbestos removal work. While smoke is generated within the enclosure, a person outside the enclosure needs to check for leaks. The competent person needs to document the result of the smoke test and provide a copy to the licensed removalist.
Negative pressure exhaust units should not be used while the smoke test is being conducted. Only smoke-generating devices incorporating non-oil-based, non-toxic smoke fluids can be used. Flares should not be used. Smoke (fire) detection devices in the immediate vicinity of the work area need to be isolated for the duration of the smoke test. Asbestos removal work should not proceed if any leaks or other deficiencies in the enclosure are found during the testing.
Leaks or deficiencies must be rectified (an expandable foam sealant, tape or equivalent may be used) and another smoke test performed until no leaks or deficiencies are identified.
The effectiveness of the enclosure needs to be regularly monitored while asbestos removal work is underway (eg visual examination, air-monitoring results and negative pressure readings).
If visual examinations of the enclosure and surrounding area indicate that asbestos dust might be escaping from the enclosure, asbestos removal work needs to be stopped until any defects have been rectified.
Negative pressure exhaust units (negative air units)
To prevent the escape of airborne asbestos fibers from an enclosed asbestos work area, an exhaust extraction fan needs to be installed so as to create a ‘negative’ air pressure of approximately 12 Pa (water gauge) within the enclosed asbestos work area. This may require the use of more than one negative pressure exhaust unit.
Use of these units must include regular checks/inspections, and a log of these checks/inspections needs to be maintained. The units need to incorporate warning devices for filter integrity/overload and power failure. They need to include a manometer or magnohelic gauge and an audible and visual alarm system.
Ideally, the negative pressure exhaust unit needs to be positioned opposite the decontamination unit to enable laminar (smooth) air flow. In this arrangement, the air entering the asbestos work area passes through the decontamination unit or point of entry while the air extracted by this system passes through a HEPA filter to remove any asbestos dust before it is, where reasonably practicable, discharged to the outside atmosphere. If this is not possible, consideration needs to be given to how to set up the enclosure, decontamination unit and negative pressure exhaust unit to enable optimum smooth flow of air through the enclosure so as to minimize dead air pockets.
Discharge of the air from the enclosure needs to be at a location away from other working areas, air conditioning inlets or breathing air compressors.
The units need to be operated continuously (24 hours a day) until all asbestos removal and decontamination tasks within the enclosure have been completed
(that is, from when the removal commences to when clearance is given to dismantle the enclosure). If the units stop during removal work, the licensed removalist must immediately cease all removal work until the problem is rectified and the required number of units are in operation. This delay needs to be as small as possible to minimize the risk of airborne asbestos fibers escaping the enclosure. Consideration needs to be given to backup negative pressure exhaust units and a generator.
The HEPA filter must comply with AS 4260:1997 High efficiency particulate air
(HEPA) filters – Classification, construction and performance or its equivalent.
A coarse pre-filter needs to be installed on the air intake side of the negative air unit to prolong the useful life of the HEPA filter. These pre-filters may need to be changed once per work shift or more frequently depending on dust loads.
Used pre-filters must be disposed of as asbestos waste.
Procedures need to be established for changing HEPA filters so that areas outside the enclosure are not contaminated.
A satisfactory method for assessing the integrity of the HEPA filter and seal fittings is regular inspection in conjunction with a static pressure alarm to indicate any failure in the system.
Maintenance work on these units must only be performed after they have been thoroughly decontaminated, or the work may be carried out under controlled conditions, such as in an asbestos removal enclosure while wearing appropriate PPE.
Specific requirements for removal of friable ACM
Sprayed asbestos insulation need to be wet thoroughly using a fine water spray. Aim to achieve maximum saturation with minimum run-off to minimize any subsequent clean-up and slip hazards.
Wetting, scraping and vacuuming methods need to be used wherever reasonably practicable. Where the ACM is covered with cloth, metal cladding or wire reinforcing, it needs to be wet thoroughly during the removal process.
Once a competent person has determined the removal area is clean, the licensed removalist needs to, wherever reasonably practicable, spray clean surfaces within the removal area with tinted PVA or a similar acrylic emulsion using airless spraying equipment. This includes any layer of plastic forming the inner surface of the enclosure to ensure any loose asbestos fibers on the plastic are firmly adhered to prior to its dismantling.
After the PVA has dried and sufficient time has elapsed for it to dissipate, para occupational air (clearance) monitoring, where required, needs to take place. The plastic enclosure must not be dismantled until a satisfactory visual inspection and monitoring has taken place.
Dismantling an asbestos removal enclosure
The licensed removalist may only dismantle a structure used to enclose an asbestos removal area once all of the following are done: asbestos removal work has been completed visual inspection by an independent person is satisfactory para occupational air monitoring, where required, is found to be less than 0.01 fibers/ml.
The plastic that formed the enclosure must be disposed of as asbestos waste, along with any other contaminated material that assisted in forming the enclosure. In some cases, structures used in building the enclosure (other than the plastic that formed the enclosure) may be wrapped and sealed in plastic and not opened until in a similar controlled environment, such as another asbestos removal enclosure (eg collapsible rods used to form the enclosure frame).
The area from which the enclosure was dismantled must be thoroughly cleaned and inspected. This needs to be followed by further para occupational monitoring demonstrating the levels are below 0.01 fibers/ml.
Ropes, warning signs and protective plastic isolating public areas should not be removed until:
The enclosure has been dismantled and removed as asbestos waste satisfactory para occupational air-monitoring results have been achieved the removal area and its surrounds have been visually inspected by an independent person and found to be satisfactory for re-occupation.
The licensed removalist needs to ensure an employee is stationed outside the asbestos work area for the duration of the asbestos removal work to:
liaise with the project supervisor check and maintain negative air units, compressor units, decontamination units and hot water service ensure security of the area is maintained communicate with personnel inside the work enclosure instigate emergency or evacuation procedures if necessary.
Small-scale removal work
Mini-enclosures are suitable for asbestos removal work in areas with restricted access, such as ceiling spaces and for emergency asbestos removals.
The mini-enclosure has to be large enough to allow movement inside the enclosure and contain all the equipment needed for the asbestos removal work.
Machinery that emits exhaust fumes should not be placed in a mini-enclosure.
The frame of a mini-enclosure can be made from a variety of materials, but has to be strong enough to support the plastic sheeting that forms the enclosure.
Heavy-duty plastic sheeting (200 micron minimum thickness) needs to be used for making the enclosure. Recycled plastic (including re-milled plastic) should not be used.
The tape used to connect the plastic to the frame needs to be strong enough to securely hold the plastic to the frame. A smoke test of the enclosure must be done to check the sealing of the plastic sheeting. For mini-enclosures, a smoke tube may be used to perform this task.
A slit will have to be made in the plastic sheeting to allow entry. This slit can then be taped from inside the enclosure.
The hazards and work procedures that need to be considered for large enclosures also need to be taken into account for mini-enclosures.
Employees leaving a mini-enclosure need to follow personal decontamination procedures based on a combination of the procedures described in
Glove bags are single-use bags constructed from transparent, heavy-duty polyethylene with built-in arms and access ports. Generally, these glove bags are approximately one meter wide and 1.5 meters deep.
Glove bags are designed to isolate small removal jobs from the general working environment. They provide a flexible, easily installed and quickly dismantled temporary enclosure for small asbestos removal jobs.
The glove bag removal method is especially suited to the removal of asbestos lagging from individual valves, joints and piping.
A major advantage of glove bags is that they contain all the waste and contamination within them, eliminating the need for extensive PPE and decontamination.
The limitation of glove bags is the volume of waste material they are able to contain. Care needs to be exercised to prevent overfilling the bag with water or waste. In addition, they should not be used on hot pipe work due to difficulties in sealing the glove bag to the pipe or maintaining the seal.
A P1 filtered respirator and disposable coveralls need to be worn as a minimum while using glove bags in case a bag ruptures or leaks.
Glove bags need to be used as follows:
Cutting and removal tools that will be used in the removal work need to be placed into the glove bag at the start of the job. When the removal is complete, tools used need to be disposed of as asbestos waste or sealed for re-use in future removal jobs.
The glove bag needs to completely cover the pipe or object on which the asbestos removal work is to be performed. The lagging on either side of the bag must be sound enough to support the weight of the bag and its wet contents.
Cut the sides of the glove bag to fit the size of the pipe from which asbestos is to be removed. Attach the glove bag to the pipe by folding the open edges together and securely sealing them with duct tape or an equivalent. Seal all openings in the glove bag with the tape. The bottom and side seams of the glove bag also need to be sealed with tape to prevent any leakage if there is a defect in a seam.
Thoroughly saturate the ACM with a wetting agent and then remove it from the pipe, beam or other surface. The wetting agent needs to be applied with an airless sprayer through a pre-cut port, as provided in most glove bags, or through a small hole cut in the bag. ACM that has fallen into the bag needs to be thoroughly saturated. The choice of tool to remove the ACM depends on the nature of the material to be removed. ACM is generally covered with painted canvas and/or wire mesh. Any canvas needs to be cut and peeled away from the ACM underneath. If this ACM is dry, it needs to be re-sprayed with the wetting agent before it is removed.
Thoroughly clean the pipe or surface from which the asbestos has been removed with a wire brush or similar tool and wet-wipe it until no traces of the
ACM can be seen. Wash down the upper section of the bag to remove any adhering ACM.
Seal any edges of ACM that have been exposed by the removal or by any maintenance activity to ensure these edges do not release airborne asbestos fibers after the glove bag is removed.
Once the ACM has been removed and sealed, insert a vacuum hose from an asbestos vacuum cleaner into the glove bag through the access port to remove any air in the bag that might contain airborne asbestos fibers. Once the bag has been evacuated, squeeze it tightly (as close to the top as possible) and twist and seal it with tape, keeping the ACM safely in the bottom of the bag.
Remove the vacuum line from the bag and then remove the glove bag from the workplace for disposal as asbestos waste.
Wrap and cut removal work
This method of removal produces the lowest levels of airborne asbestos fibers and is most appropriate for redundant plant and equipment.
The plant or equipment to be removed needs to be vacuumed with a HEPA-fitted vacuum cleaner and/or wiped with damp rags (which need to be disposed of as asbestos waste). The plant or equipment then needs to be double wrapped with 200 micron thick plastic and taped so that the ACM is totally sealed within the plastic.
The wrapped plant or equipment can then be cut from the rest of the plant and equipment using mechanical shears or oxy-cutting tools.
Only exposed metal can be cut and care needs to be taken to ensure the plastic wrapping is not punctured or melted.
The cut section can then be removed as asbestos waste.
If lagging has to be removed to allow a pipe to be cut, the glove bag removal method may be used to expose the metal at the point to be cut and for a sufficient length on either side. The pipe then needs to be cut at the center of the exposed section.
A P1 filtered respirator and disposable coveralls need to be worn as a minimum while doing wrap and cut removal work. However, if the lagging is in very poor condition such that significant airborne asbestos fibers may be generated, a higher level of respiratory protection may be required or the method of removal reconsidered.
Para occupational (or control) air monitoring involves taking samples of air from fixed locations, which are usually immediately outside the area where asbestos removal is taking place. This area is usually enclosed by plastic and is sometimes referred to as the ‘bubble’.
The purpose of this monitoring is to identify whether airborne asbestos fibers are present outside the removal enclosure and to ensure that control measures designed to prevent asbestos escaping from the enclosure are working.
The person who commissioned the removal work must ensure that para occupational monitoring is done when the asbestos removal work
will be done:
- indoors, or
- outdoors and could pose a risk to other persons (eg employees working nearby who cannot be isolated from the area during the removal).
Para occupational air monitoring is not required when glove bag asbestos removal is undertaken.
The person who commissioned the removal work (not the licence holder) must arrange for para occupational air monitoring to be done before the removal work commences and must ensure monitoring lasts for the duration of the removal.
Where para occupational air monitoring is required, the licensed removalist must not commence asbestos removal work until that monitoring has commenced.
A person who is suitable to conduct para occupational air monitoring for
asbestos removal work needs to be:
- experienced and knowledgeable in the asbestos removal industry
- competent in operating monitoring equipment such as sampling pumps
- able to implement the most appropriate sampling strategy and place the
appropriate number of sampling pumps in the correct locations
- able to comply with the ASCC Guidance Note The membrane filter method for estimating airborne asbestos fibers (available at ascc.gov.au)
- able to adequately store and transport samples to ensure a proper chain of custody prior to analysis.
This person must be competent to perform para occupational air monitoring but does not have to be approved by anyone. The person who analyses the subsequent samples however, must be an approved analyst.
The person who performs para occupational air monitoring needs to determine all air monitoring requirements. Among other things, they need to decide:
- the location, rate and frequency of sampling
- whether it is necessary to monitor air quality in areas next to, above and below the asbestos removal area and in routes used for removing asbestos waste, taking account of the potential exposure of current and future occupants of these areas
- whether additional routine air sampling is warranted (eg in nearby high occupancy areas)
- clearance air monitoring requirements
Para occupational air monitors generally need to be placed in the middle of the sampling area, away from areas where there may be poor air-mixing (eg close to walls, corners or large objects) or fast air movements (eg in front of air conditioning inlets or exhausts).
If an enclosure is used, para occupational air monitoring needs to occur:
- prior to any work (background monitoring)
- throughout the duration of the removal work (commencing before the asbestos removal work commences and finishing after asbestos removal work finishes for the day or shift)
- at least at the boundary of the asbestos removal work area
- as part of preliminary clearance monitoring following a satisfactory visual inspection
- during dismantling of the enclosure
- as part of the final clearance inspection.
If an enclosure and a decontamination unit are used, para occupational air monitoring needs to occur at the following locations:
- clean side of the decontamination unit
- change area
- lunch room (where applicable)
- surroundings of the asbestos work area, including near the negative air unit (where possible).
Air monitoring of the exhaust from the extraction unit is a specialized task.
The membrane filter method (MFM) is unsuitable because the results obtained do not always truly reflect actual fiber concentrations in the exhaust air. Air monitoring devices also should not be positioned at the exit point of a negative air unit because this can lead to unwarranted confidence in the filter’s integrity.
If the exhaust is to be monitored directly, iso-kinetic sampling techniques need to be used.
The person who commissioned the removal work must arrange for the analysis of samples to be done by an approved asbestos analyst. An approved asbestos analyst is a person approved by NATA to perform asbestos fiber counting (or to identify asbestos in samples) and to issue reports under the authority of a NATA-accredited laboratory. Such persons may be found at nata.asn.au.
If an analysis is requested for the purpose of meeting a regulatory requirement, ensure the report has a NATA stamp.
The results of para occupational air monitoring cannot be compared to the asbestos exposure standard specified in the Regulations. The asbestos exposure standard is designed to assist in controlling risk to employees and is measured in the employees’ breathing zone.
Para occupational air monitoring is conducted at stationary or static positions outside the removal area to evaluate the effectiveness of controls.
The person who commissioned the removal work must:
- give a copy of the results to the licensed removalist as soon as the results
- are received
- ensure the results are accessible to the HSR of any affected designated
- work group
- ensure the results are accessible to any affected employees.
Air monitoring action levels
Where levels exceed 0.01 fibers/ml, the licensed removalist must take the following action:
- more than 0.01 fibers/ml but less than or equal to 0.05 fibers/ml:
– investigate the cause
– implement controls to prevent exposure and prevent further release
- more than 0.05 fibers/ml:
– stop removal work
– notify WorkSafe – this needs to be done as soon as possible by phone followed by a fax of the results accompanying a statement that work has ceased
– investigate the cause – this needs to include a thorough visual inspection of the enclosure (if used) and associated equipment in consultation with all employees involved with the removal work
– implement controls to prevent exposure and further release – this needs to include extending the isolated/barricaded area around the removal area/enclosure as far as reasonably practicable (until airborne asbestos fiber levels are at or below 0.01 fibers/ml), wet wiping and vacuuming the surrounding area, sealing any identified leaks (eg with expandable foam or tape) and smoke testing the enclosure until it is satisfactorily sealed
– do not recommence asbestos removal work until further
para occupational air monitoring is conducted that indicates the airborne asbestos fiber levels are at or below 0.01 fiber/ml.
Employees and other persons entering the area must be adequately protected.
This is likely to require respiratory protection (the level will depend on the likely level of exposure) and personal protective clothing.
This type of air monitoring is required after friable ACM has been removed and the area has been cleaned dry to ensure fiber levels are less than 0.01 fibers/ml.
For removal jobs involving an enclosed area, para occupational air monitoring needs to be done following completion of the removal work both prior to and after removal of the enclosure.
Where fiber levels are found to be equal to or greater than 0.01 fibers/ml, further clean-up work (such as wet wiping and vacuuming of the area) must take place. The area must then be re-tested to establish the fiber levels are less than 0.01 fibers/ml.
The Regulations do not require any form of air monitoring for non-friable asbestos removal work. However, the person who commissioned the removal work needs to consider providing para occupational air monitoring during removal of non-friable ACM that is being done in or next to a public location.
The results of this monitoring may assist in addressing any potential concerns raised by persons occupying these areas.
A clearance certificate is a written statement confirming the asbestos removal area and the area surrounding it have been cleaned satisfactorily and are safe to be re-occupied (by unprotected persons) for normal use.
When must a clearance certificate be obtained?
A clearance certificate must be obtained prior to any person re-occupying the area where removal work has been done in relation to:
- any quantity of friable ACM, or
- non-friable ACM greater than 10 square meters.
If a clearance certificate has not been obtained, the area where the removal work was done must not be re-occupied. For example, at a site containing non-friable ACM where demolition is to take place, the ACM must be removed, so far as is reasonably practicable, before demolition work starts. A clearance certificate must then be issued before the area can be re-occupied for demolition or other work.
At a work site such as a factory where asbestos removal work is taking place, the removal work cannot be stopped to allow employees, the owner of the factory or anyone else to enter the removal area prior to a clearance certificate being issued.
Who must obtain a clearance certificate?
The person who commissioned the removal work (not the licensed removalist) must obtain a clearance certificate from an independent person.
The exception to this is when removal is conducted in domestic premises used solely for domestic purposes (and the person who commissioned the removal is the owner of the premises). In this case, the licensed removalist must obtain the clearance certificate.
The clearance certificate must state that:
- an inspection by an independent person has found there is no visible asbestos residue remaining as a result of the asbestos removal work in the area where the removal work was done or in the immediately surrounding area.
- if applicable, asbestos para occupational air monitoring in the area where the
- removal work was done indicates the airborne asbestos fiber level is less than 0.01 fibers/ml (para occupational air monitoring is not required for glove bag removals or where the removal work is done outdoors and will not pose a risk to other persons).
The clearance certificate should also include the scope of the removal work performed to avoid confusion with any remaining fixed or installed asbestos that was not part of the asbestos removal work.
Where para occupational air monitoring is required, the samples collected must be analysed by an approved analyst. When the person who commissioned the removal work obtains the clearance certificate, they also need to ask for the NATA-accredited report related to the counting of asbestos fibers.
The visual inspection relates to the removal work that was done and any visibleasbestos residue resulting from the removal work in the removal area and the area surrounding it at the time of the inspection. The visual inspection for a clearance certificate does not require wipe samples (or settled dust sampling).
However, settled dust sampling may be performed to provide an indication of cleanliness. The need for any settled dust sampling should be determined and undertaken by a person with the requisite knowledge, skills and experience to determine and undertake such sampling.
In some situations, it may be apparent that asbestos contamination of the removal area could occur after the visual inspection. In these situations, the person performing the visual inspection and issuing the clearance certificate needs to explain that the visual inspection relates to the removal work that was done and the status of the area at the time of the inspection (photos may assist). In addition to the clearance certificate, a further statement needs to be provided explaining there is potential for asbestos contamination in the area based on the particular circumstances, which need to be described.
What must a clearance certificate for non-friable asbestos removal work contain?
The clearance certificate must state that an inspection by an independent person has found there is no visible asbestos residue remaining as a result of the asbestos removal work in the area where the removal work was done or in the immediately surrounding area.
Procedure and requirements relating to visible inspection for a clearance inspection are the same as for friable asbestos removal work .
Para occupational air monitoring and clearance inspections
An independent person is someone who is independent from the licensed removalist and from the person who commissioned the removal work.
This person must not be in a position of conflict with their independence of judgement and integrity in relation to their inspection activity. Anyone who has a conflict of interest or a vested interest in declaring there is no visible asbestos residue remaining would not be considered independent.
An independent person can not be a director, employee or person with a pecuniary interest.
In some cases, a consultant may be engaged to manage a project.
Where this consultant commissions the removalist, they can not take on the role of the independent person to issue the clearance certificate.
An independent person must have the requisite knowledge, skills and experience to undertake visual inspections. This means they must have:
- knowledge of the asbestos removal industry and the Regulations
- the ability to identify what is or what may be ACM
- the ability to thoroughly inspect the area for suspect material
- experience in asbestos removal work, inspection of asbestos removal area or audits of workplaces for ACM that is relevant to the visual inspection to be performed (eg friable or non-friable ACM, the type of structure or plant from which ACM was removed)
- the ability to interpret para occupational air monitoring reports for friable removal work (where required).
The person proposing to engage the independent person should consider asking for referees and examples of clearance certificates issued for other removal work. They should also ask the independent person what process they will be undertaking to assist in determining whether this person’s knowledge, skills and experience are appropriate.
There must be no contractual or financial relationship between the independent person and the licensed removalist unless the removal is conducted in domestic
premises used solely for domestic purposes (and the person who commissioned the removal work is the owner of the premises).