Staying Safe: An Asbestos Abatement Safety Checklist
The abatement industry is one of those most important out there, but also one of the most dangerous. When workers are going through the process of removing harmful asbestos, mold, and lead from buildings, they're protecting the occupants while putting themselves in harm's way.
From prolonged exposure to asbestos, workers can develop mesothelioma or asbestosis, an occupational lung disease. These diseases are considered to be the number one cause of occupation-associated illness in the United States based on the frequency, severity, and preventability of the illnesses. Workers can still complete their jobs while staying safe if they follow a safety checklist for before, during, and after an abatement job.
The most important thing to do before beginning the abatement process is to prepare the area. Generally, this preparation means doing everything possible to prevent asbestos exposure. The specifics include:
- Designate the abatement site as a hazard zone.
- Seal off the area, including all windows and air vents, with window film, window shields, and plastic sheets.
- Protect flooring with carpet protection film, carpet shields, and other temporary floor protection.
- Move out all furniture and other objects from the area.
- To monitor airflow, install a negative pressure air machine.
- Have all the tools you will need to correctly and safely perform the abatement.
Of course, any abatement team will have their own safety procedures to ensure that the workers remain safe during the process and that there is no lingering contamination in the area. Here are some general safety tips to always do during an abatement project:
- Workers should wear suits that are loose-fitting, seal-proof, disposable, waterproof, and can be worn over shoes.
- Workers should wear other protective gear including gloves, boots, goggles, and shoe covers.
- Thoroughly rinse off clothing before exiting the area being abated.
- Keep asbestos-containing materials wet at all times to prevent the asbestos fibers from becoming airborne.
- Use proper ventilation systems to maintain a safe work environment.
Even after you have taken all of the proper safety steps before and during abatement, there are still steps to take once the abatement is complete. These are the important things to do after abatement:
- Measure the air quality of the abated area to ensure that it is safe for occupants.
- Follow federal and state regulations to properly dispose asbestos-containing materials including and films or shields, tools and protective equipment that cannot be cleaned, asbestos products, and used rags.
- Clearly mark black bags containing asbestos waste as hazardous materials before properly disposing or giving to a licensed asbestos contractor to dispose of.
Following the proper safety precautions during abatement is important not only for the workers, but for anyone who has to occupy the area afterward. To prevent the contraction of any dangerous diseases, always follow the necessary safety tips.