The Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations provide a clear framework on what exactly should happen during asbestos roof removal. It’s vital that every person conducting the removal exercise abides by such regulations, not only to avoid legal implications, but also to avoid any health hazards.
The WHS Regulations provides an in-depth outline on the procedures to be carried out during removal, which require use of specialised equipment, processes and precautionary measures.
An overview of some of the critical features includes:
1. Preparation of the Work Area
Proper preparatory measures will ensure the entire process runs smoothly and reduce potential risks.
When dealing with roof asbestos, it’s particularly important that proper access is made to the problem areas, which might not be as much of a concern when handling soil contamination or other instances on the ground. A stable and easy to use platform must be made available, which would allow easy transition of both workers and equipment.
Restriction of access is a standard practise when dealing with any potentially harmful substance. Clear notices must be provided too.
2. The Right Equipment
Standard equipment used in normal renovation work may not be applicable when dealing with asbestos containing material (ACM). Hence, it’s necessary to use special equipment suited to the task.
500- and 1,000-gauge polythene sheeting would be needed, as well as duct tape. This would be useful in preventing asbestos contamination, which would happen if the ACM comes into contact with other materials.
Based on the method of removal, a wetting agent may be utilized such as a garden-type sprayer. Cleaning equipment would also be useful, including buckets of water and rugs, since the area must be properly cleaned after removal.
Waste containers must always be available within the work area. Such containers should be properly labelled since they would be used in disposal of waste material.
3. Quality Personal Protective Equipment
Since workers would be in close proximity to the potentially harmful ACM, they must be provided with effective personal protective equipment (PPE). This consists of appropriate clothing, boots, and respiratory protective equipment, among others.
The overalls need to be disposable, to prevent spread of contaminants to places beyond the work area. If such attire isn’t disposable, there should be a decontamination facility within the work area. This will ensure that whenever workers leave the area, they are completely free of contaminants.
Boots without laces are best, since they are easier to decontaminate than laced boots.
4. Careful Removal and Disposal
The removal process is handled in a very careful manner, unlike what would ordinarily happen in normal roof replacement.
It’s always important that contact with ACM is avoided as much as possible, even if workers are provided with gloves and other PPE. Various types of equipment can be used in removing bolts and other fasteners.
When removed, the ACM should be lowered carefully to the ground, instead of dropping them. These should be carefully stacked and either double-wrapped in 1,000-gauge polythene sheeting or placed in waste containers.
Certain implements, such as rope and webbing, used during the operation may also need to be disposed off as waste.