There was a time asbestos was ubiquitous in several industries. It was cheap, easy to use and it became a part of many household items. Roofing, ceiling tiles, flooring, insulation, and pipelines have used asbestos extensively. Most of the construction materials use asbestos in the easy to control and morph form. Thankfully, the non-friable type of asbestos does not chip off as easily as the brittle, friable form. Unless there is extensive hammering, drilling or strong physical impact, bonded asbestos does not enter the air in microfiber form.
What is Australia’s relationship with asbestos?
Asbestos is dangerous, and there is no doubt about it. However, there is some confusion as to how it affects the human health. During work on old insulation, roofing or flooring containing asbestos these structures release the mineral into the air in the form of micro fibres. These fibres are indestructible. Ironically, that is the property that made them an integral part of the construction, plumbing and engineering fields. The fibres are stackable. They can bond with each other and settle down in hidden spots for years. Asbestos enters the human body through inhalation. They enter the lungs and cause scarring or fibrosis in the lungs.
The increasing incidences of asbestosis and mesothelioma in the country have a direct relationship with Australia’s history of asbestos mining and use. The last asbestos mine was in Wittenoom. It was an active site for blue asbestos mining. Several studies affirmed the deplorable state of the working and living conditions of the residents of the area. In 1978, the government finally adopted a policy that would later phase out the activities in the mining site and the town. Currently, it is a well-known contaminated site, and the government has spent close to $1.4 million on the site. Since the early 1950s till about the late 1980s, Australia’s economy relied heavily on asbestos mining and use. It is understandable that the minerals made their way into several homes, automobiles, offices, and industries.
When should you consider calling professional help for your asbestos problem?
Even today, older homes in several towns have asbestos in their roofing, floors, inner walls, electrical wiring, and plumbing. Ageing and wearing is a constant threat to the integrity of building materials. With continual wear and tear, it is possible for the asbestos to mix with the water in the pipes or the air in the vents. It threatens the well-being of the occupants in more ways than one. Currently, at the height of the DIY era, asbestos poses a different kind of risk. There is always a chance of awakening the sleeping assassin. Here are a few reasons you might want to consider asbestos testing & disposalat your home –
- You are thinking of starting DIY repair and remodelling projects.
- Your home is vintage. Any building that dates back to the 80s (at least) has a high chance of containing asbestos.
- Recent natural disasters or human-made crisis has disturbed the structure of the building.
- Your basement, attic or storeroom has old piles of building material that might contain asbestos.
- You have found out that your town or city has a high level of environmental asbestos concentration.
Homeowners often underestimate the dangers of asbestos. If there is going to be a “dusty work” inside your building, you should always opt for professional asbestos testing.
Why is training necessary to take care of asbestos sampling and abatement?
Australia has stringent rules on asbestos abatement. Safe Work Australia and the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 entail that the unit working on the abatement process should ensure the complete safety of the people working at the site. According to the WHS Act and the WHS regulation, the owner of the property and the provider of the removal services should communicate with the people, who are working there, the neighbours, and anyone else under the possible influence of the deconstruction.
Only trained personnel with relevant certifications can legally remove asbestos from areas larger than 1 square meter. He or she is the competent person, and he or she should meet the following criteria –
- The person should have certification in asbestos assessor work as per the VET course.
- He or she should have certification for the removal of class A asbestos or Class B asbestos from the completion of VET courses.
- The person should have experience and qualification in health and safety at the workplace, along with science, construction, building or environmental health.
The training they receive is extensive, and it pertains to –
- The nature of the hazards of asbestos.
- The effects of the material on a person’s health.
- The methods and tools fit for the job.
- The risk control measures.
- The minimisation of the risk of releasing the material in the air.
- Choosing and caring for the PPE.
- Modern decontamination and disposal methods.
- Emergency measures to restrict contamination.
What should you do, in the case you have to DIY the asbestos testing?
The testing and disposal of asbestos-containing material is the duty of trained professionals only. If you are interested in carrying out the removal process on your own, you must remember the following points –
- You should inform the neighbours. Set up signs that declare the nature of your work.
- You should have the correct tools. Refrain from using powertools, hammers, and saws. You should have PPEs for the process.
- Always find out the decontamination facilities and disposal options before you take the ACM out of its place.
- The PPE, tools, and clothing during the abetment of asbestos require special attention after the work is over.
It is safe to say that hiring a professional asbestos disposal company is the wisest decision. Whether you are thinking about a public building or a residential building, you will be risking the exposure of many people to dangerous material. Skip the skimping and the DIY urges. Pick up your phone and call in professional help, who know how to deal with this severe problem.