Safe Asbestos Handling & Procedures In Queensland
Your Health & Safety Is The Highest Priority
Asbestos was a popular construction material prior to the 1980′s due to its versatility and fire-resistant properties. During the 1950s and 1960s almost all new homes and commercial buildings were insulated with asbestos. However, it was discovered that the fibres from asbestos are a health hazard when they become airborne.
Asbestos is almost exclusively the cause for a rare and aggressive form of cancer called mesothelioma. It can also cause lung cancer and asbestosis, which is a scarring of the lungs making it difficult to breathe.
With its extensive use in the mid-century, it is not uncommon to find asbestos during home renovations. There are many safe asbestos handling and procedures in Queensland set out so that the health hazards are minimized during home renovations and commercial construction.
There are also laws and certificates in place to help determine the best and safest asbestos handling and removal procedures for different classes of asbestos. To safely handle and remove asbestos, it needs to be prepped, drilled correctly, moved and disposed of in the proper manner. Once the asbestos has been removed, home improvement can continue.
Queensland Asbestos Law
There are two laws for the safe asbestos handling and procedures as set out by the Queensland Government, for further reading visit the website here.
1. Friable asbestos – Class A
Class A certificates to remove friable asbestos cannot be obtained by an individual wishing to do DIY asbestos removal. Friable asbestos removal must be supervised by a Class A license.
If you are found to be handling asbestos in an unsafe way or do not apply for the correct licenses then legal action can be taken against you in Queensland. If you are living in South East Queensland then you must use a reputable asbestos removal company. John Timble from iAsbestos Removal Brisbane says “We often have people call asking if they can remove asbestos from their property as they don’t understand the risks of airborne contamination. We always encourage customers to talk to a licensed asbestos removalist before attempting to remove yourself”.
2. Non-friable asbestos – Class B
Non-friable asbestos certification can be obtained by anyone wishing to do home improvements and remove over 10 square metres of non-friable asbestos. They must go through a course and be approved by the Department of Health to remove the asbestos.
Non Friable – Less Than 10 Square Metres
If it is under 10 square metres of non-friable asbestos that requires removal then the license is not needed. The homeowner must be sure to take the correct safe asbestos handling and procedures in Queensland homes.The safe procedures required are outlined below.
Asbestos Handling Procedures
For home improvements where asbestos removal is necessary, the following procedure should be done for non-friable asbestos. Home owners can learn more about home renovation procedures from the Government website.
The area in which asbestos removal will occur needs to be properly prepared to minimize the impact of the asbestos from becoming airborne and spreading.
- Inspect the asbestos containing material to determine the degree of removal needed.
- Find hazards that will impact asbestos removal and disposal such as live wires, heat sources and vermin.
Personal protection equipment
- Disposable coveralls
- Hand wipes
- Minimize the number of people required to remove the asbestos.
- Use a hand drill or low-speed drill
- Use a plastic sheet taped with duct tape to protect the work space from becoming contaminated.
Drilling into asbestos containing material can be a tricky procedure because there is a risk for the fibres to become airborne. To minimize this risk be sure to do the following:
- Using a small disposable cup, drill a hole into the bottom so that the cup is over the drill bit with the opening facing away from you.
- Fill the cup with a thick substance, such as shaving foam. This will act to collect the fibres as they are drilled.
- Firmly hold the edge of the cup against the surface to be drilled.
- Drill through the surface carefully.
- Wipe the surface and dispose of the cup and wipe in a plastic bag and seal it.
Clean Up and Disposal
Due to the nature of asbestos it needs to be disposed of properly so that it does not become a health hazard to anyone else.
- Never sweep or dust asbestos fibres.
- Use wet wipes to clean the surfaces and equipment contaminated by asbestos.
- Place asbestos debris, wet wipes and any other items contaiminated by the asbestos into waste disposal bags, only filling the bags half-way to ensure they do not break.
- Spray personal protective equipment with water to catch dust and carefully remove them while standing on a plastic sheet. Once removed, fold the plastic sheet inward to collect the equipment and dispose of in a plastic bag.
- Seal the bags with duct tape and put them into a second bag, sealing with duct tape again.
- Label each bag with: CAUTION – ASBESTOS, DO NOT DAMAGE, DO NOT INHALE DUST.
- Contact your local council to determine where the appropriate waste facility is to bring the bags.
There are some procedures that are strictly forbidden when working with asbestos and can result in legal action and health risks. These will release large amounts of asbestos fibres into the air. Prohibited activities include:
- Never use household vacuums, even if it is HEFA
- Never use high powered water pressure tools
- Never use compressed air tools
- Never use power tools such as circular saws, electric sanders or angle grinders
Safe asbestos handling and procedures in Queensland are carefully outlined to ensure the safe removal of asbestos in less than 10 square metres of non-friable asbestos. In cases where asbestos is friable or there are more than 10 square metres of non-friable asbestos, it is best to get help from a trained professional to ensure that no asbestos becomes airborne. Friable asbestos means that the fibres can easily entre the air and therefore your lungs.
The health hazards from asbestos are very serious and should not be taken lightly. Even if a neighbour sees a home renovator is not safely handling asbestos removal they are required to inform the authorities, as it is their right to be safe. Endangering family and neighbours with poor asbestos handling and doing any prohibited activities will result in a severe fine.
It is possible that the asbestos is in good condition and should be left alone to keep from releasing the fibres. In this case, a professional should assess the asbestos to determine the proper handling procedures. Do not think that since asbestos was a popular building material that it means it is safe to handle without the discussed procedure.