As a contractor, it is your responsibility to ensure the health and safety of the entire construction crew under your charge. Apart from issuing work and safety guidelines, you need to protect your workers from one of the most lethal dangers present during construction or renovation work – asbestos.
Asbestos has been linked to various health problems ranging from inflammation of the lungs to lung cancer and even mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer that affects the lining of the body cavities along the chest and abdomen.
In Australia, houses that were built before 1990 should be regarded as likely to containing asbestos materials and products, since asbestos cement materials only began being phased out in the 1980s. So if you and your crew have a job on such a house, you need to hire an asbestos removal contractor to ensure that your crew and the surrounding area are protected.
Credentials and documentation
Before hiring the asbestos removal contractor, there are a few things you need to ask for:
The law requires that any asbestos removalist (like McMahon Services) should have a current license. There are two kinds of licenses based on the kind of asbestos the removalist is allowed to handle:
- Class A license – This allows for removal of all types of asbestos i.e. both friable and non-friable.
- Class B license – This only allows for removal on non-friable asbestos.
Friable asbestos refers to materials that contain dry asbestos that is either in powder form or can possibly be crushed into powder from. It is quite high-risk. Non-friable asbestos, on the other hand, refers to materials where the asbestos fibres are bonded to the material, therefore posing a lesser risk.
Make sure to check that the license is current since an expired license may indicate a rejection of their application for a renewal, and that every person on the removal team is duly licensed. Licenses are renewed every three years.
In order to have a plan of action for the asbestos removal, the removalist should be aware of what exactly they are dealing with. This is in the form of a laboratory report for air samples taken prior to any work being done. You will also need to have a post-removal inspection and air monitoring to ensure your safety, so make sure that your removalist has that in mind.
It is important to ask where the removalist intends to dispose the asbestos contaminated materials. You can then check with your local authorities whether that location is a licensed disposal facility, as a way of checking the credibility of your removalist.