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The Do's and Don'ts of Asbestos Removal in Commercial Roofs

March 13, 2020

Asbestos is a harmful material that can possibly be found in commercial roofs. The asbestos fibres can be combined into many different forms and materials and it can be mixed into cement, dry walling, sealants, and adhesives. If the asbestos-containing materials are in good repair then there is no reason for concern. However, if the materials become damaged, then the asbestos fibres can become aerosolised. If this happens, the fibres are small enough that they can easily be breathed in which can be hazardous to lung health. That is why asbestos removal must be addressed with utmost precaution. Below are the do’s and don’ts of asbestos removal in commercial roofs.

Do – Wear Personal Protective Equipment

Wearing the right personal protective equipment is essential to protect your health when working with asbestos. Ordinary dust masks are not effective in preventing the inhalation of asbestos fibres and dust. You should wear either a half-face filter respirator fitted with a class P1 or P2 filter cartridge, or a class P1 or P2 disposable respirator appropriate for asbestos. Respiratory protection devices should comply with Australian/New Zealand Standard 1716. This number will always be displayed on the mask. To ensure that the respirator is effective, users should be clean-shaven, and the respirator should have a close fit.

Keep your respirator on until the work session has been completed, the cleaning is done, and your contaminated clothing has been removed, bagged and sealed. For the removal of asbestos cement material, a half-face disposable or cartridge-type

Disposable coveralls should be used to prevent the contamination of clothing and footwear. An attached hood or disposable hat, and suitable disposable gloves should also be worn. The coveralls should have no external pockets or Velcro fastenings, and the gloves should be sufficiently robust for the work to be done. Smooth, nonslip footwear without laces or top fasteners are preferable to plastic overshoes where there is a risk of slipping.

Do – Work According to Safety Protocols

Work in a well-ventilated area and, where possible, in the open air but not on windy days. Thoroughly wet down the material before you start and regularly during the work by lightly spraying surfaces with water. Use non-powered hand tools (e.g. a guillotine, hand saw or hand powered drill) as these generate smaller amounts of dust and waste chips that are coarser than those generated when using power tool. Pull out any nails first to help remove sheeting with minimal breakage and carefully lower (not drop) the sheets to the ground and stack on two layers of polythene sheeting at least 0.2 mm thick (e.g. heavy-duty builders’ plastic). You should also minimise cutting or breaking of the asbestos cement products and remove and dispose of personal protective equipment as described below. Shower and wash your hair immediately afterwards and, regardless of whether gloves were used, thoroughly clean your hands and fingernails to remove any dust and asbestos that may be on your body.

Don’t – Expedite the Process with Unsafe Methods

You should not use high-pressure water jets to wet surfaces as this may increase the spread of loose fibres or dust. Also, it is not allowed to slide one sheet over the surface of another as this may abrade the surface of the materials, and increase the likelihood of the release of fibres and dust. The regulations do not permit the use of power tools, abrasive cutting or sanding discs, or compressed air on asbestos cement, as these will contribute to airborne dust and debris.

Know more about asbestos removal in commercial roofs from All Safe Roofing.

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