What you need to know about non-licensed asbestos contractors?

We recently had a query from one of our clients that we wanted to share with you in this blog. They are a contractor working in the commercial and retail sectors and occasionally they have to remove bolts from floors which may contain asbestos.

Their query was about wearing the correct PPE (personal protective equipment) and RPE (respiratory protective equipment) to carry out the work safely.

We want to take this opportunity to explain what non-licensed asbestos contractors need to do to comply with the law when working with asbestos and whether they need air monitoring carried out by an independent analyst.

Non-licensed works

Removing bolts from asbestos floor tiles is classed as non-licensed work. To work on these unlicensed products, workers will need the appropriate training, insurances, PPE, RPE, risks assessment and a plan of works to be in place before they lift a finger.

When you work with asbestos you must carry out a risk assessment first. It is good practice to identify risks anyway but is required when asbestos is involved, and then make the necessary arrangements to oversee how the works will be carried out.

PPE and RPE

For non-licensed works you would need to wear appropriate coveralls and use a Type H vacuum cleaner.  These have special types of filters that are needed to carry out the works (HEPA – High Efficiency Particle Arrestor). Air is filtered to prevent asbestos fibre from being spread. This equipment should be regularly maintained and certified every six months.

When all of this is in place, the area needs to be set up and cordoned off and a buffer zone should be created. There should be clear signage to indicate this is a respirator only area.

With regards to masks / respirators there are different types of masks – P2 and P3. P2 masks are for general dust. For asbestos work you need to use P3 filter respirators. Face masks must be face tested to the individual wearer to ensure they fit and will not allow in any dust or fibre.

The half face masks we use are created so you can wear them for longer periods than the paper masks and they give a better seal around the face.

There are a couple of ways to do face fit testing (Qualitative or Quantitative). One way is you put a hood on and another colleague will waft some foul smelling smells in front of your mask to test whether you can smell it, if you can, then you haven’t got a great fit. This test relies on your ability to smell and how the mask fits on the day and we don’t recommend this option.

In the industry we use a Portacount device to test respirator fit. In this case you put on a mask and it has a pipe coming up to it. You do all sorts of different exercises with the mask on and the device checks that when you move your head from side to side or up and down that the mask still works and fits your face correctly.

You must be clean shaven because even a little bit of stubble can change the fit factor of a mask.

Waste disposal

Disposing of waste is incredibly important. You must have a hazardous waste licence to remove waste from the site. Asbestos waste must be double bagged and when it is placed in your vehicle it needs to be separated so nothing can puncture the bag.

Insurance

If you are working with asbestos it is vital that you are insured to carry out the works – if anything goes wrong, it can be costly.

Almost all insurers do not exclude asbestos in insurance policies because you pay a premium for it. We have it specifically added into our policy.

If you use a run-of-the-mill builder, they may only come across asbestos once in a blue moon. However, when that happens, you need to make sure they have got everything in place – which in reality, they probably won’t.

Notifications and records

If a contractor takes on non-licensed works, there are a few extra things they need to do to be compliant.

If you are doing notifiable non-licensed works, you must tell the licensing authority with correct ASB1 notification.

In addition, workers and employees must have medical examinations completed every three years and the records need to be kept and maintained for those employees.  Also there is a requirement to keep information about any exposures through personal air monitoring.

In summary

There is a lot to comply with to make sure you have ticked all the boxes. We have come across non-licensed contractors doing these kinds of works and they fall down in most if not all of these areas. You must make sure you have everything we have listed above in place. If you cannot satisfy all these requirements then turn to qualified asbestos expert for help.

We’re a professional asbestos consultancy helping businesses deal with asbestos compliance using asbestos surveysasbestos testing, and asbestos removal management. Please call one of the team, or use the online form to obtain your free quotation. If you would like further information or advice on asbestos and asbestos training, contact the team on 0844 818 0895 or email [email protected]

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

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