A range of protective gear such as facemasks and overalls are available for dealing with asbestos both in the home and for commercial premises. There is also specialist equipment including a range of vacuums, decontamination chambers and rooms and disposal containers and packaging that are needed when degraded asbestos is finally removed.
All equipment that is used to handle hazardous waste needs to be of a particular standard. In the case of asbestos this has to meet the British Standard BS 8520.
Even when removing a small amount of asbestos or working with materials that may contain it, wearing a facemask is absolutely vital to give you protection. The one recommended by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the FFP3 facemask as it provides more coverage and greater security from the surrounding dust. In some cases, full face masks can be used which are actually similar to gas masks, although these can be uncomfortable to wear in warm enclosed environments.
Type 5 Disposable Overalls
Overalls are generally worn when handling all asbestos situations and these are designed to protect the clothing underneath and the skin. They are disposable and should be removed in a safe environment once the day’s work or the job is completed. As with other waste involving asbestos they need to be packaged and go to landfill rather than ending up in general waste bins.
Polythene Sheeting and Viewing Panels
Rooms that are being worked on to remove asbestos will usually have polythene sheeting to protect specific areas and to make it easier to collect up asbestos dust at the end of the job. You can also put in viewing panels that give managers the chance to look in on work progress without having to worry about putting on protective gear.
Asbestos Waste Packaging
As with any hazardous waste, asbestos needs to be disposed of in secure packaging, whether its asbestos dust or protective clothing. This can include specially designed bags for dust waste as well as protective wrapping for larger items. Packaging for asbestos must be UN approved and these are one of two types depending on the category of asbestos:
• UN 2212 for blue and brown asbestos.
• UN 2590 – white asbestos.
Find out about the different types of asbestos here.
For large asbestos removal jobs a decontamination room is generally needed. This is a box area where protective clothing can be safely removed and disposed of and contractors can exit the hazard without contaminating the rest of a building. These can include shower systems and can be custom built for particular jobs.
Air Filtration Units
When dealing with a dangerous substance like asbestos, maintaining the air quality is important. This means having specially designed air filtration units that can make sure the outside is not contaminated and the inside remains breathable.
Industrial style vacuums are generally used when dealing with asbestos waste. Normal, household or commercial vacuums are not appropriate. These specialist tools put the waste into a securely designed storage bag or container which means it can be more safely handled and disposed of.
With the problem of dust, a major factor in dealing with asbestos, one solution is to wet the walls or material which makes it easier to handle and creates less airborne debris. This is normally a low pressure water system.
Find out more about legislation and asbestos.