Asbestos is everywhere – in pipes, insulations, crawlspaces, perhaps your garage or finished basement. If you’re finding your home hard to breath, or customers are complaining about your store’s air quality, it’s probably time to invest in asbestos testing.
As every great asbestos management plan is designed to identify then mitigate structures that may contain asbestos, a thorough risk assessment must ensue. We break these risks down into smaller chunks so individuals responsible for writing these plans know what points should be included.
Once asbestos has been found, mitigating the infestation is imminent. If too much exists, a complete gutting of dwelling or commercial structure may be required. Should the asbestos issue reside in several isolated areas, removal of several walls or even putting up false walls may ward off future issues.
Some asbestos test results may turn up nothing, meaning you’ll need no plan. Regardless, your tests should be recorded into a survey-style document.
The results of your asbestos survey are then used to produce your business’s asbestos management plan, which will help business owners and building managers manage the continuing condition of and access to any asbestos containing materials.
This should include regular checking of the condition of the materials containing asbestos, and controlling any building or repair works to ensure this is not disturbed, except by specialists under similarly controlled circumstances.
Create a timetable to manage further exposure risks
When any amount of asbestos has been identified, and some means of managing the risk has been documented, executing this portion of your asbestos management plan should be based off a structured timeline.
Include such activities as priority levels of removal, reviews, any activities that could impede progress and follow-up plan.
Your timetable should be accurate to your AMP, even specific to sections or departments so department heads can follow the timeline.
Schedule dates to review or revise plan
According to Australian law, documentation and plans regarding asbestos management must be reviewed every five (5) years. Six months, or shortly after asbestos remediation, is suggested.
Amendments to plan should be viewed and approved by everyone who must follow this plan.
Have an emergency plan ready to go should workers need to cease operations to mitigate asbestos issues. For example, you could mandate that employees:
- Stop activity or work immediately
- Keep people away from the area
- Inform the Group Chair or the building manager at the earliest opportunity
- Lock off the affected area
- Put up warning signs to keep people out of the area
- Arrange for a licensed contractor to remove or repair the damage.
If dust or debris gets onto your clothing, wipe down clothing with damp rags, remove any contaminated clothing, and place all contaminated items in a sealed bag. Seal the bag, then bag again, and arrange for disposal as contaminated asbestos waste. This must be via a licensed carrier and go to a licensed waste disposal point.
Remove asbestos before it becomes a problem
Asbestos was officially outlawed across Australia in 2003. Immediate removal of asbestos, when discovered, could prevent further damage to building, and one’s health.
The works must be undertaken in accordance with approved safe work practices or other practices that achieve the same level of protection against the generation of asbestos fibers in the air and as approved under work permits granted by Australian government.
Removal stages include:
- Firstly, you want to have your home inspected for any trace of asbestos yet by the time it is actually removed, the damage has already been done and you may have already been stricken with its effects.
- An expert will devise a removal plan.
- Commercial workers will be asked to avoid their respective dwellings until the safe removal of asbestos materials has concluded
- All clothing, tools and gear should be decontaminated using the wet or dry method before they are removed from the asbestos work area. The appropriate method will depend on its practicality, the level of contamination and electrical hazards.
- Any tools or gear that cannot be decontaminated must be put inside an approved sealed and labelled container.
- 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. If tools and equipment are disposable, so far as is reasonably practicable, they need to be disposed of.
Obviously, these steps have numerous sub-steps necessary to finish the work correctly. Point is, asbestos should be removed immediately if known, while simple asbestos testing can pinpoint areas of older dwellings requiring removal.
Contractors undertaking asbestos related work do not need to be licensed asbestos removal specialists necessarily, however, they must show a level of competency in the safe handling and management of asbestos materials including working knowledge of various hazards associated with exposure to asbestos.
From there, any asbestos services needed to completely eradicate this issue – including asbestos removal – can be requested by the company who tests. Ignoring the advice of professionals who tested could not only detriment your health, but cause others undue physical trauma or lead to serious legal ramifications.
Establishing a communication plan is vital, too. Here are 4 steps to put together a specialized communication plan to convey asbestos issues (note you can remove and add specific workers as needed):
- Put asbestos stickers on asbestos items indoors.
- Advise staff to keep out of the plant room.
- Tell them to tell engineer crew if they find any damage to materials, surfaces or equipment.
- Send engineers, and related staff, on asbestos training.
- Advise the boiler engineer about the pipe insulation and asbestos insulating board panels in the plant room.
- Advise the garage about the brakes on the delivery van.
- Advise the building contractor about pipe insulation, asbestos cement and the fire door panel that might be asbestos
- Advise the painter about the insulation and the asbestos insulating board panels in the plant room.
- Advise the electrician about the asbestos insulating board panel that the asbestos-containing switch box is screwed onto.
Protect your employees, clients, and customers
ACM can exist in two dissimilar forms – bonded (generally quite stable) and friable (a more unstable form). Bonded (or stable) forms of asbestos are often seen in materials such as asbestos-cement sheets, roof tiles, vinyl floor tiles and electrical switchboards. Friable asbestos, when dry, is in the form of a powder, or can be crumbled, crushed or reduced to powder by hand pressure. Friable forms of asbestos materials include blow-in insulation, insulation around piping and blowers, various fabrics.
Clients enter your establishment and eventually fall ill. Customers trying to keep warm ingest particles that come through ventilation systems. And, workers who’ve been with you several decades are having issues breathing, forcing them to take an unexpected retirement in lieu of health concerns.
To protect the people that matter most, asbestos testing is both an affordable and necessary gesture. Most asbestos services offer comprehensive testing for affordable prices, with asbestos removal priced competitively, too. Refusing to test older structures, especially those predating 1980, disservices those who may purchase your building after you, and those still working or transacting with you.
Protect your business
Who wouldn’t want to protect their investments, both now and in the future? Asbestos can decimate successful companies by virtue of lawsuits, fines and even criminal penalties if issues were known but ignored. Protecting investments means changing your structure – more specifically, your building materials.
Remember, the asbestos management plan (AMP) should be a concise yet understandable written document that outlines:
- Who is responsible for managing asbestos at your place of business
- The asbestos survey information you have just made using steps above
- Plans for work on asbestos materials (if any)
- The schedule for observing the asbestos materials’ condition
- Notifying people who might disturb the asbestos about your decisions
If you have a small building with limited amounts of asbestos containing materials that are in good condition, the work could be simple. If you have more of a problem than this, you may need some outside help.
Insurance covers businesses during events such as catastrophe, natural disaster or criminal acts by others. Unfortunately, damages to people who work (or worked) for your company caused by asbestos aren’t covered since most insurers won’t insure common sense.
Spend the money on asbestos testing, business owners. It’s a worthy investment.
If issues regarding asbestos aren’t mitigated, and injury happens to anyone, your business could be liable for damages. In Australia, that could mean huge fines and other legal expenses. It’s important to follow your asbestos management plan and have contingencies in place so these legal incidents are avoided.
All told, once you have finalized your asbestos management plan, consider using a licensed removal contractor to handle removal or ancillary actions that must be performed professionally. Be realistic; you may have to prioritize these happening, but always reinforce your decisions by recording how you assessed them in relation to the relative risk that asbestos may exist.
Contact SERS today to discuss your asbestos management plan in thorough detail.