Workers involved in construction, renovation or demolition have a high risk of being exposed to asbestos-containing materials (ACM).
Some of these materials include:
- Vinyl floor tiles and adhesives
- Roofing and siding shingles
- Hot water and steam pipes coated with asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape
While the construction workplace has regulations to protect the workers, those in a maintenance or custodial position may not know what to do if they accidentally disturb ACM.
The EPA offers three types of training for those who do not typically work with asbestos.
Type 1: Awareness Training
This training is for maintenance and custodial staff involved in cleaning tasks where ACM may be accidentally disturbed. It is two hours and the topics may include:
- Background information on asbestos
- Health effects
- Worker protection programs
- Locations of ACM in the building
- Recognition of ACM damage and deterioration
- The operations and maintenance program for that building.
Type 2: Special Operations and Maintenance Training
This training is for maintenance staff involved in general maintenance and ACM repair. This class is generally at least 14 hours because it involves more detailed discussions of the topics in the Awareness Training along with more complex information such as:
- Federal, state, and local asbestos regulations
- Proper asbestos-related work practices
- Descriptions of the proper methods of handling and disposal of ACM
- Respirator use, care, and fit-testing
- Protective clothing donning, use, and handling
- Hands-on exercises for techniques such as glovebag work and HEPA vacuum use and maintenance
- Appropriate and proper worker decontamination procedures.
Type 3: Abatement Worker Training
This training is for workers who work directly with ACM. These courses range in from 32 to 40 hours. Abatement worker training addresses a variety of specialized topics such as:
- Pre-asbestos abatement work activities
- Work area preparation
- Establishing decontamination units
- Personal protection, including respirator selection, use, fit-testing, and protective clothing
- Worker decontamination procedures
- Safety considerations in the abatement work area
- A series of practical hands-on exercises
- Proper handling and disposal of ACM wastes.
The EPA lists a few Do’s and Don’ts:
- Do leave undamaged asbestos-containing materials alone.
- Do keep activities to a minimum in any areas having damaged material that may contain asbestos, including limiting children’s access to any materials that may contain asbestos.
- Do take every precaution to avoid damaging asbestos-containing material.
- Do have removal and major repair done by people trained and qualified in handling asbestos. It is highly recommended that sampling and minor repair also be done by a trained and accredited asbestos professional.
- Don’t dust, sweep, or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos.
- Don’t saw, sand, scrape, or drill holes in ACM.
- Don’t use abrasive pads or brushes on power strippers to strip wax from asbestos flooring. Never use a power stripper on flooring that may contain asbestos.
- Don’t sand or try to level asbestos flooring or its backing. When asbestos flooring needs replacing install new floor covering over it, if possible.
- Don’t track material that could contain asbestos through the house or building. If you cannot avoid walking through the area, have it cleaned with a wet mop. If the material is from a damaged area or if a large area must be cleaned, contact an asbestos professional.