Dealing with asbestos in your demolition project

Many demolition and construction projects involve some consideration of how to manage the issue of asbestos. Over the years, countless studies have shown that asbestos is responsible for many serious health problems, which means that the containment and abatement of asbestos must be addressed with the utmost care.

At Jennings Demolition, we always develop careful contingency plans and follow strict safety guidelines when dealing with buildings that may have been exposed to asbestos. Since this dangerous substance was used in more than 3,000 different construction projects throughout the 70s, it’s a common issue.

Inspecting for Asbestos Before a Demolition

Before any demolition project can take place, a professional team must conduct a thorough survey of the work area, with a specific focus on finding signs of asbestos. Trained contamination professionals scour the area, looking for ACM, or “asbestos containing material.” The Environmental Protection Agency defines ACM as any substance that contains more than 1% asbestos.

Thorough examinations also check the area for “presumed asbestos containing materials” or “PACM.” A PACM will be able resilient thermal system insulation, floor covering, or spray-applied surfacing material installed in a property before 1981. PACM materials are regarded with the same caution as ACMs until the absence of asbestos is proven.

Handling Asbestos Before Demolition

If a professional team detects the presence of ACM or PACM in the building, the group responsible for the demolition project will appoint an asbestos coordinator to manage the situation. This person will be accountable for:

  • Coordinating activities related to the management of asbestos
  • Communicating with clients
  • Choosing a laboratory and removal team

Asbestos abatement must be handled separately and safely before other contractors are permitted on the work site to perform demolition work. Whatever the project may involve, a maintenance and operations program will need to be formulated to address concerns with work practices, cleaning, training, and surveillance

Abating Asbestos in a Demolition Site

Both notifiable and non-notifiable asbestos can be removed from a building before demolition, using mechanical or manual processes. To make sure that you choose the right strategy for your project, make sure that you conduct a thorough risk assessment and put together an asbestos management plan before the removal process begins.

Risk assessments conducted before a demolition will consider the current HSE guidelines for dealing with materials that may contain asbestos. Once you’ve determined whether you will need to manually or mechanically remove the harmful substance, your contract will get to work clearing the site of anything that may be dangerous to future teams.

Typically, with both mechanical and manual removal, the professionals involved with your demolition project will begin by “damping down” the asbestos-containing materials to keep fibre release to a minimum.

Asbestos-containing material must be removed from the building in sheets to eliminate the risk of air-borne fibres as much as possible. Once the materials are removed from the building, they will need to be placed in suitable packaging which is correctly labelled.

Removing Asbestos from the Demolition Site

When it’s time to remove the asbestos from the demolition site, your specialist team will need to follow the rules and regulations laid out by the 2012 guidelines for “Control of Asbestos.” This means that containers will need to be carefully selected to store asbestos-containing materials, and these containers will need to be maintained to ensure that the contents are never exposed to the public.

Containers for asbestos removal remain on the project site for the extent of the removal process, to reduce manual handling as much as possible. Debris will be carried out of the demolition site each day, while a specialist sub-contractor will be responsible for getting rid of the asbestos material containers. The sub-contractor will dispose of any asbestos-containing materials using a licensed waste facility.

When asbestos is present within a building, only once analysts have fully confirmed that all the dangerous substance has been removed, can your demolition team start working on breaking down the property.

If at any time during the demolition procedure your demolition experts suggest that further materials containing asbestos have been unearthed, then they will be responsible for alerting the correct teams and beginning the investigation process over again.

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