Asbestos is a naturally occurring material with microscopic fibres which are resistant to heat and most chemical reactions. These properties were the primary reason that the material was widely used in commercial and industrial settings. Common applications included ceiling materials, wall cladding, flooring, cement compound, cement pipe, gaskets and thermal insulation products. There are well over 500 known uses of asbestos within building products.
Asbestos is now highly regulated as tiny airborne fibres pose serious health problems if inhaled. The last uses of asbestos within Australia were officially banned in 2003, but most building materials containing asbestos commonly used ceased production on 1987 and were formally banned in 1991. Most structures built from 1940 to the mid 1980’s in Australia contain some form of asbestos material. It is best practice and a legislative requirement for those states that have adopted national harmonisation Occupational Health and Safety legislation, that any workplace structure built pre 2003 be inspected for the presence of asbestos. This is particularly important for any structure that is being demolished or renovated to ensure works are completed within legislated guidance and best health practices.
Asbestos Air Monitoring
Air monitoring involves conducting tests to assess respirable fibres and the effectiveness of asbestos removal control measures. The tests must be undertaken in accordance with regulations set out by Safe Work Australia and the relevant state legislative body.
SERS offers asbestos monitoring services conducted by suitably qualified, experienced, licensed Asbestos Assessors. All analysis is performed at our own laboratory facilities which are NATA accredited for respirable fibre monitoring and asbestos identification. A consultant from our company will visit the site for air monitoring tests and ensure the sampling is conducted with all mitigating factors and health considerations taken into account to ensure sampling accuracy.
Our consultants are highly experienced, having worked on numerous asbestos related projects for residential, commercial and industrial establishments. We deliver services according to strict requirements using the latest equipment. Our field technicians hold the necessary qualifications and remain up to date on the latest practices.
Contact us today to speak to one of our specialists for more information.
What Are the Monitoring Requirements?
Asbestos air monitoring is mandatory for friable asbestos removals. The testing must be conducted in accordance with the Guidance Note on the Membrane Filter Method for Estimating Airborne Asbestos Fibres established by Safe Work Australia. Monitoring must also be:
- Conducted immediately before removal work is carried out;
- Undertaken during asbestos removals to assess safety;
- Carried out after the removal has been completed.
Monitoring is not required for non-friable asbestos but is strongly advised and considered a good occupational hygiene practice. The purpose of the tests is to provide a quantitative analysis of risks involved and to assess whether an area is safe to occupy following a removal.
Who Conducts the Asbestos Air Monitoring?
An independent licensed asbestos assessor must undertake the air monitoring for asbestos removals. The individual must hold the necessary qualifications and be able to implement a suitable sampling strategy for the testing.
For commercial premises, the individual commissioning the removal process must arrange for an assessor to determine the air monitoring. For domestic premises, the individual performing the removal work is responsible for nominating a specialist to conduct the air monitoring.
The SERS team of personnel is quality assured through an internal quality control program and participation in the National Asbestos Program (NAP) provided by Proficiency Testing Australia. All services are conducted according to current regulations in place for asbestos monitoring. Our professionals are:
- Experienced with asbestos removals and monitoring;
- Competent with handling monitoring equipment;
- Able to create appropriate sampling strategies;
- Capable of conducting detailed assessments of the premises.
There are different methods of air monitoring which include:
- Exposure Monitoring: This process involves taking regular samples of the breathing zone to assess the risk of exposure to respirable asbestos fibres. The data gathered from this type of monitoring is then compared with the national exposure standard.
- Control Monitoring: This method is used to assess the effectiveness of control measures while removals are underway. Positional air monitors are placed at a fixed location to test the air for respirable airborne asbestos fibres.
- Background Monitoring: This process involves conducting tests for respirable fibres in the air prior to the commencement of any work which may disturb materials containing asbestos.
- Clearance Monitoring: These tests are carried out after the completion of asbestos removals. An area is only deemed safe if the level of airborne fibres present are measured below 0.01 fibres/mL. Areas will need to be restricted if they fail to meet these standards.
Samples obtained through air monitoring should be analysed by NATA laboratories.
Our in-house laboratory is ISO/IEC 17025:2005 compliant and NATA accredited to conduct such tests which include asbestos fibre counting and air volume measurement. Our team includes several Class A Asbestos Assessors as defined by federal Codes of Practice (Safe Work Australia).
Our range of equipment which includes 105 mobile pumps gives us the capability to analyse 12,000 fibre samples a year. All samples go through an extensive testing process with results then reported back to clients across metropolitan and remote regions.
All asbestos work completed complies with the relevant codes of practice including:
- How to Safely Remove Asbestos Code of Practice (Safe Work Australia Dec 2011)
- How to Manage and Control Asbestos in the Workplace Code of Practice (Safe Work Australia Dec 2011)
- Guidelines for Managing Asbestos at Construction and Demolition Waste Recycling Facilities (Sept 2012)
SERS offers complete air monitoring services for asbestos. Contact us today on 1300 542 315 to speak to one of our specialists for more details.
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