How Do You Prepare For Asbestos Removal?

Asbestos removal is a very sensitive undertaking, which requires high precautionary standards. The preparation phase is particularly important in avoiding adverse health effects on workers and house occupants.

Here is a simple guideline that a qualified specialist would follow in preparation for removal of friable products (asbestos containing material in powder form), based on information from the Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations:

1. Preparation For Removal Project
Before you attempt to do anything, you must follow these preparatory procedures :
  • You should first obtain an asbestos removal control plan (ARCP), as well as the work instructions.
  • To ensure the highest standards of safety and compliance of the project, an on-site assessment must be carried out. Relevant data can also be sourced from an existing asbestos register.
  • It's necessary that calculations are made of the required quantity of materials, based on the quality requirements, specifications and plans.
  • Applicable environmental requirements should be identified so that the project can comply with all regulatory obligations.
  • The health of workers involved in the project must be preserved. Therefore, you should apply all processes required in meeting health surveillance requirements. This also involves air monitoring.
  • Authorization can then be obtained (based on company and legislative requirements) after finishing the preparation phase.
  • All workers involved in the project should be supplied with personal protective equipment (PPE) that is consistent with the job. Such equipment should be checked for faults beforehand.
2. Preparation Of Removal Area And Site
Once the project has been authorized, following the initial preparation phase, a second preparation of the actual site is necessary. This involves the following activities:
  • The particular materials containing asbestos should be identified and the asbestos register checked.
  • Having identified the target materials, you can then implement signage and barricade procedures. This is necessary in delineating work areas within the site; hence preventing unwarranted access by unqualified persons.
  • Obviously, you should also set up the decontamination unit before starting the project.
  • You also need to test the decontamination procedures, just to be sure of their effectiveness, while ruling out chances of error.
  • Similarly, all equipment and materials that will be used in removal of asbestos containing material (ACM) should be checked prior to the operation.
  • It's critically important that adjacent utilities are assessed beforehand. Such utilities as power lines and water pipes may need deactivation, containment or diversion. Doing this will avert avoidable risks.
  • The code of practice and applicable legislation would also require you to notify all occupants in the building, neighbors and any other person who might be affected by the operation.
3. Enclosing The Removal Site
This is the last step involved in preparation for the removal project. Various activities involved include:
  • You should identify the most appropriate enclosure type and removal process, depending on how extensive the removal project is.
  • Since friable products are potentially more harmful than non-friable products (ACM in solid form), stricter enclosure procedures would be required.
  • Once a particular enclosure type is selected, you must ensure that negative air pressure is maintained within it, in compliance with legislative requirements. It should also be inspected and smoke tested to make sure that it's completely air-tight.
  • After completing all these preparatory procedure, a licensed assessor should be notified of the proposed asbestos removal project.
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