Magazine article Risk Management

Asbestos Abatement Begins with Comprehensive Safety Procedures

Magazine article Risk Management

Asbestos Abatement Begins with Comprehensive Safety Procedures

Article excerpt

Asbestos Abatement Begins With Comprehensive Safety Procedures

An asbestos abatement project has just two objectives: eliminating health hazards and minimizing the liability of building owners. When developing safety procedures on an asbestos abatement project, it is important to realize that meeting current regulations is not a satisfactory objective. Current regulations must be viewed as minimal performance standards.

If litigation results from the presence or removal of the asbestos, the claimant's counsel will not be interested in the fact that you met regulatory standards. Instead, counsel will inquire as to what the state-of-the-art practices and knowledge was at the time and whether you maintained such practices and demonstrated such knowledge in protecting public health.

The development of safety procedures begins with the building owner hiring qualified consultants to determine the presence and type of asbestos and the scope of work necessary if asbestos is present. The consultants' analysis and recommendations are essential and their involvement must continue throughout the asbestos abatement process. Their primary functions during abatement are to monitor air samples and assure the work by the contractor is done to specification.

From the consultants' report and your own thorough inspection of the premises, you can structure your work program and safety procedures to the requirements of your particular asbestos abatement project.

Safety Procedures

First, the work area is cordoned off behind a minimum of two layers of 6 mil polyvinyl sheathing. Walls and floors are sheathed, and in some cases, an overhead sheath may be employed. With the first work area enclosed, the consultants install air sampling pumps in and immediately outside the work area. Throughout the job, the consultants monitor the air samples to ensure minimum fiber counts. Within the work area, emergency exits through the polyvinyl walls must be established. This is usually done by marking the polyvinyl with flourescent lines and attaching a cutting device. In an emergency, a worker can easily cut through the sheathing.

In anticipation of a failure of the wall sheathing, negative air machines are also installed in the work area to ensure that contaminated air will not escape into the building. …

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