WorkSafe Asbestos Removal
Asbestos represents a group of minerals that contain thin microscopic fibers that, if released into the air, can become trapped in the lungs and lead to a bevy of conditions:
- Shortness Of Breath
- Lung Scarring
- Lung Cancer
- Pleural Plaques
- Pleural Effusions
As a result, asbestos is highly regulated by the Workers’ Compensation Board, also known as WorkSafe.
WorkSafeBC is an independent statutory agency responsible for protecting and maintaining the health and well-being of the Australian workers’ compensation system. Part of this duty involves setting forth the compliance regulations that must be followed during the removal of asbestos.
The regulations are fairly complex, so it not possible to cover them all in one setting. The goal instead is to provide a general rundown of primary rules and policies pertaining to asbestos removal.
All regulations put forth by WorkSafe abide by the ALARA principle, which stands for ‘All Exposures Must Be Kept As Low As Reasonable Achievable.’ It basically specifies that employers must actively attempt to reduce worker exposure levels, even if the exposure levels are already lower than WorkSafe exposure limits.
The sampling of asbestos fibres via air monitoring is sometimes required:
- It is always required when dealing with friable asbestos removal.
- It is not required but recommended when dealing with more than 10 meters squared of non-friable asbestos removal.
- It is not required but recommended when dealing with a work area that lies adjacent to a high-traffic public zone.
Employers whose employees engage in asbestos removal must ensure their employees are trained in how to identify and safely remove asbestos.
- A Class A license lets employees remove any quantity of friable and non-friable asbestos-containing material.
- A Class B license lets employees remove any quantity of only non-friable asbestos-containing material.
- A lack of a license limits the quantity to 10 meters squared maximum.
Employees are allowed to remove small quantities of non-friable asbestos in certain scenarios, like when dealing with renovations and/or refurbishments. However, some degree of training (usually a course on the removal of non-friable asbestos) is required.
When employees deal with friable asbestos, either the employees themselves must possess a Class A license, or a Class A licensed supervisor must be present at all times to monitor any and all activities.
Employee Health Monitoring
The welfare of workers must be monitored before and during the removal of asbestos, starting with an initial examination for the purpose of establishing a baseline assessment. Furthermore, said health monitoring must be undertaken under the guidance of a registered and trained medical practitioner who has relevant competence in asbestos.
Asbestos Removal Control Plan
When dealing with friable asbestos, employers must prepare an Asbestos Removal Plan the serves as a syllabus for all employees and workers. It must include the following types of details:
- Approved Work Procedures
- Approved Decontamination Procedures
- Approved Emergency Procedures
- Approved Attire
- Asbestos Health Risks
- Health Monitoring Requirements
The goal of this plan is to inform employees of everything pertaining to the job and their own health.
The regulations pertaining to both friable and non-friable asbestos removal are fairly complex, but the following provides a general run-down:
- The employer must obtain a workplace asbestos register.
- A licensed asbestos removal supervisor must be present at all times.
- The correct types of equipment must be used.
- The correct types of clothing must be used.
- Signs must be set up to identify the asbestos work area.
- All on-site hazards must be identified.
- Decontamination facilities must be available.
- Asbestos must be contained, labeled and disposed of properly.
- Contamination clothing must be handled properly.
For more detailed information, please review the official documentation from WorkSafe.
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