Safe removal and disposal is key to asbestos waste management. Pick any property that was built prior to 2000 and the likelihood is there will be some form of asbestos that is part of the infrastructure. Left undisturbed, most of this is quite harmless and can simply be left in the confidence that it will not cause any harm. The problem comes when asbestos is damaged or you are carrying out work that involves, for example, drilling into or removing asbestos insulating board that can create dangerous dust.
Non-domestic properties such as schools, public buildings, hospitals, commercial premises, factories and shared areas for flats and communal properties may all contain various forms of asbestos. The person responsible for the building has a duty to investigate where asbestos may be present and keep a record of its condition.
For example, when it comes to schools, colleges and other educational establishments, the Government issues advice with 5 steps for identifying and dealing with asbestos. These are:
- Conducting a survey of asbestos containing materials in the school.
- Assessing the risks that are associated with these materials.
- Putting together a plan for dealing with these materials.
- Keeping staff and visitors informed of any risks and precautions that need to be taken.
- Making sure that asbestos management in the school is kept regularly under review.
The same steps should be taken in any non-domestic premises that may have asbestos containing material.
Find out more about legislation and asbestos.
If the asbestos is not damaged, then it is best left alone. If you are undertaking work on a property, it is equally important to make sure that potential asbestos hot spots are noted and the appropriate equipment and protective gear used. If you are having work done and have carried out a survey, there will be areas that you have identified as asbestos containing. There may also be areas that you haven’t identified but could potentially have asbestos in them. You have a duty to inform the person or company who is going to undertake any work of your findings.
When asbestos containing material is found that is degraded and could pose a risk, then you will need to have it removed. This generally has to be done by a licensed professional who has the training and equipment to do it properly.
Safety Measures and Asbestos
Workers who are likely to come into contact with asbestos containing materials should take appropriate measures to protect themselves and those in the vicinity. This will include wearing a face mask and overalls as well as wetting down the work area to make dust less likely.
You can find out more about health and safety issues for asbestos here.
Professional companies that handle the removal of dangerous and degraded asbestos will take all possible precautions. This may include isolating the room being cleared by putting up specialist ‘chambers’ that help prevent dangerous asbestos dust from spreading. In some cases, these will look more like the kind of thing you see for isolating infectious diseases but is needed because any escape of dust can be potentially hazardous for those passing by. Contractors will wear appropriate protective gear and make sure that all waste material is carefully collected and packaged properly. Other protective equipment that may be used, depending on the size of the job are:
- A decontamination unit where contractors can shower and change.
- Specialist vacuums that are designed for dealing with asbestos waste.
- Low pressure/airless spray units.
Find out more about asbestos equipment here.
Safe Disposal of Asbestos
Material is adjudged as hazardous even if it only has a small amount of asbestos in it. The problem with asbestos is it is not easily degraded and can stay in the environment for a long, long time. It must be double bagged and securely placed in a protective container before transporting. This includes all the waste that goes with removal, from shoes and overalls to masks. All waste containing or contaminated by asbestos must be clearly labelled.
Transporting asbestos must comply with the Carriage of Dangerous Goods Regulations and must include the safe packaging and be accompanied by the appropriate documentation.
Asbestos normally has to go to a landfill site that is specifically licensed for this type of waste. As an interim measure, before going to landfill, asbestos can be taken to a transfer station where it is categorized and then stored until it can be moved. This includes completing the appropriate paperwork.
Paperwork for Asbestos
Whether you are working in a non-domestic property or are a contractor removing domestic asbestos waste, the appropriate paperwork needs to be completed to provide a clear audit trail for a particular job. This normally entails a waste consignment note that details the type of waste and how and where it is being disposed of.
Find out more about asbestos waste removal services.