The clean-up process after asbestos removal work

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An effective clean-up is one of the key steps of a safe asbestos removal process, as even small quantities of asbestos dust or debris left on site have the potential to cause serious health problems.

While the reasons for the post-removal clean-up may be obvious, working out how to do it properly is less straightforward - as the process is thorough and involves the use of particular equipment.

As licensed asbestos removal contractors, the experienced BLS Asbestos team have developed a detailed process that we use to ensure every site we work on is left clean and safe for reoccupation.

Whatever type of asbestos containing materials are being removed from a building, the clean-up should be undertaken using a Class H vacuum cleaner and wet rags. While sweeping up may seem the obvious method of removing dust, this should never be attempted as it will result in some asbestos dust being spread around rather than picked up.

Cleaning should be carried out as the work is undertaken to avoid a build-up of hazardous materials. Large pieces of asbestos debris can be put into suitable containers, while dust should be vacuumed up.

Class H vacuum cleaners are specially designed for industrial cleaning and can cope with asbestos and silica dust. The model used for an asbestos clean-up must comply with BS 8520-3:2009 and be properly maintained and regularly cleaned by someone licensed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to undertake that type of work.

The vacuum should also have the appropriate attachments to clean all the surfaces on site, such as hard floors, carpets, furniture and fabrics. It should be used carefully to avoid disturbing further asbestos fibres and making them airborne, and regularly checked for damage.

Many surfaces will need to be wiped down with a wet rag to remove asbestos dust, but they will need to dry before being vacuumed as wet materials can damage the cleaner’s filter. When using damp rags to clean surfaces, you should only use each one once and then dispose of it. Never re-soak a rag after use, as this contaminates the water and risks spreading the dust.

One key thing to remember is that the vacuum cleaner will also need to be cleaned after use. Wipe the outer casing and attachments with damp rags, but leave the inside of the vacuum cleaner for an HSE accredited person to deal with. Then undertake a visual inspection of the vacuum, hose and attachments to look for any dust that has been missed, before placing the hose and attachments in a labelled plastic sack and placing the sealing cap over the hose opening.

Before the site is reoccupied, air monitoring tests may need to be undertaken to ensure the safety of workers / residents. BLS Asbestos use an independent UKAS accredited analytical company to carry out a 4-stage clearance, including air monitoring, after each asbestos removal job.

Personal decontamination

One thing it is easy to overlook is asbestos dust on your PPE, but it is crucial to deal with this. There have been numerous cases of people developing asbestos-related illnesses after breathing in fibres brought home by family members on overalls, boots and other work clothing.

Where possible disposable overalls and respirators should be worn, then bagged up and disposed of with the rest of the asbestos waste from the site.

If reusable overalls are worn, they should be cleaned using the brush attachment of a Class H vacuum cleaner or patted (not rubbed) clean with damp rags before being removed. They should then be bagged up and sent to a specialist laundry.

Don’t forget about safety boots, which need to be cleaned with damp rags.

After removing all PPE, workers should wash before leaving site. The washing facilities then need to be cleaned using damp rags to ensure other workers are not exposed to asbestos fibres.

Disposal of asbestos

All asbestos waste, including PPE, should be packed in UN-approved packaging, double wrapped and clearly labelled with a CDG hazard sign and asbestos code information.

Waste with an asbestos content of 0.1% or greater is subject to Hazardous Waste Regulations (or Special Waste Amendment (Scotland) Regulations) and can only be disposed of at a licensed disposal site. A Waste Consignment Note should be completed and kept for at least 3 years.

It can only be transported to the disposal site in either a sealed skip or in a suitable vehicle with a separate easily-cleanable compartment for the asbestos. Typically, it is easier to use a registered waste carrier to transport and dispose of asbestos waste.

BLS Asbestos is licensed by the Environment Agency to carry hazardous waste, so can complete asbestos removal jobs by safely transporting and disposing of the waste.

Contact us via the website or by calling 01484 400558 to request a quote or for more information about our licensed asbestos removal and disposal services.

Published: 23rd June 2016