Asbestos – Reducing the Risks in Roofing
Here in the UK the use of asbestos was totally banned in 1999, the dangers still remain as so many buildings constructed before that date contain asbestos or asbestos containing materials (ACMs). This means that any repair and refurbishment work done on buildings erected before that date potentially pose a risk and there are strict guidelines in place to manage the risks of asbestos. Because asbestos was widely used in roofing, it’s very likely that any roofing company will come across asbestos during the course of their work and it’s vital that they know exactly what action to take when this happens.
If you should discover asbestos during the course of your work, then you need to put up a warning sign and make sure nobody enters the area. The asbestos should then be reported to whomever is in charge in your company and arrange for a sample of the material to be analysed. If the material does not contain asbestos, then you can carry on with your work unimpeded. However, if asbestos is determined to be present, a decision must be made on whether a licensed asbestos contractor needs to be employed in order to deal with it and the asbestos should be reported to the customer and the project’s asbestos management plan should be updated.
Your company’s emergency procedures should include a process for managing asbestos in the workplace and the following steps should be taken when asbestos is discovered. When asbestos or ACMs are accidentally disturbed, asbestos fibres may be released and must be dealt with quickly and effectively. Cleaning up low-risk asbestos (where the fibres are firmly bound to the matrix and in good condition, such as with asbestos cement, bitumen products, textiles, insulating boards, etc.) may not need a licensed contractor. However, your company’s emergency procedures should include a process for managing asbestos in the workplace and the following steps should be taken when asbestos is discovered:
- Warn anybody who may be affected.
- Ensure that anybody who is not needed to deal with the asbestos is excluded from the area.
- Identify the cause of the release of asbestos fibres.
- Regain control of the area as soon as possible.
- Make sure that anybody in the affected work area who is not wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), including respiratory protective equipment (RPE) leaves the area immediately and minimise the potential spread of asbestos by ensuring that they are suitably decontaminated.
- Clean up dust and debris in the area (pick up bigger pieces of debris and use cotton/impregnated rages and adhesive tape to clear up dust deposits and put all in an asbestos waste bag for disposal).
- Decontaminate anybody who has been contaminated with dust and debris.
- Make sure any rags, clothing or PPE is decontaminated or disposed of as contaminated waste.
- Make sure you have a process in place by which lone workers or remote workers can alert somebody should they discover asbestos during the course of their work.
Because roofing work is one of the most likely occupations in which asbestos may be found, next week we’ll take a look at some actions you can take to provide solutions for your company and workers. Make sure you don’t miss out on this information by following us on Facebook or Twitter.