What is licensed asbestos removal?
Asbestos is, unfortunately, something that is still found throughout the country. Once a highly popular material thanks to its versatility and durability, it became a regular fixture of the building trade for generations.
Sadly, we now know that asbestos is also a very dangerous material. When disturbed or damaged, asbestos can release microscopic fibres into the air, which can then be inhaled. These remain in the body,causing serious damage and even having the potential to cause life-threatening diseases, such as Asbestosis, Mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Due to this, the asbestos which has been used to build so many structures throughout the country now needs to either be safely removed or properly managed, depending on what is most suitable for the circumstances. As you can probably imagine though, removing asbestos is dangerous work. We’re talking about hazardous materials that can cause serious harm, and therefore,you may need to contact a professional for licensed asbestos removal.
What is licensed asbestos work?
To put it simply, notifiable licensed asbestos removal is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Due to the dangerous nature of asbestos removal, some work will need to be carried out by someone who holds a license for activities which involve “significant hazard, risk or public concern”.
All licensed asbestos work will also require the enforcing authority to be notified at least 14 days before any work begins. For most premises, this will be the local authority but for larger organisations, such as factories and hospitals for example, the Health &Safety Executive (HSE) will need to be notified.
What kind of work requires a licensed contractor?
The level of exposure, and therefore risk, determines whether asbestos related work requires a licensed contractor or not. The HSE state that exposure that is not sporadic or low intensity would be considered licensable work.
This include things like removing sprayed coatings (also known as limpet asbestos), any removal which involves loose fill insulation,work which has the possibility of disturbing pipe lagging, work on an asbestos millboard or work on an Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB) which a risk assessment has indicated will not be for a short duration of time.
Finally, licensable work is needed for any significant quantities of loose debris that contains asbestos contaminated dust or debris(ACD), which is above a low intensity and is above the control limit. The control limit is 0.1 asbestos fibres per cubic centimetres of air (0.1 f/cm3)averaged over a four-hour period. Whether or not work requires a license is dependent on this control limit in these instances, and whether it exceeds or falls beneath it is subject to a risk assessment before work begins.
The importance of using licensed asbestos contractors
To summarise, licensed asbestos work comes down to a variety of factors; whether it is on a medium to large scale, the level of intensity involved, the kind of asbestos that is being dealt with and its friability. Here’s a quick breakdown of why these factors may require expert attention:
Type of asbestos
There’s actually more than one kind of asbestos and asbestos-related materials. This will have a huge impact on how dangerous it is. For example, something like sprayed coating can have a concentration of up to 85%. This is therefore licensable, while other Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACM) types, such as cement sheets and floor tiles, can remain non-licensed as long as they are kept in good condition.
This is due to the fact that all ACMs become much more dangerous when they are disturbed, as this can allow fibres to be released and inhaled. This brings us to our next point.
Related to ACM type, friability means how likely it is to be damaged, disturbed or broken into smaller pieces. The more likely that is to happen, the easier the fibres can be inhaled and thus, cause damage to the health and well-being of those who come into contact with it.
Finally, there’s the amount of time spent exposed to asbestos. To give you an example, if someone has to spend more than an hour a week working with friable asbestos material, this would require a licensed contractor.
For more information on the surveying, testing,encapsulation and removal of asbestos, please visit our FAQ page for some answers to common queries.