Kennards Hire - Hire or Rent Equipment, Tools & Supplies

    How to deal with asbestos on a work site

    Published on 14 May 2019, Tuesday, 1:16 PM

    Workers involved in building renovations, roofing, construction and demolition may come in contact with asbestos over the course of their career. The mineral, while naturally occurring, can be detrimental to your health, and it's important to handle it correctly to minimise risk.

    When asbestos is disturbed it can produce a dust that contains asbestos fibres. When inhaled, these fibres can cause a range of serious health problems. These health risks have caused asbestos to be banned from Australian products since 2004, but unfortunately it is still common in buildings built between the 1940s and 1980s.

    Removing material containing asbestos should be undertaken with care. Ideally, cement sheets containing asbestos should be taken down whole to avoid disturbing the mineral. These roof sheets can be removed from below, with workers on mobile elevating work platforms like cherry pickers or scissor lifts for ease of access.

    If you are unable to determine whether material contains asbestos, a sample of the product can be taken to be tested by an accredited laboratory. Untested suspicious material should be handled as if it contains the mineral.

    Along with cement ceiling sheets, asbestos can be found in exterior cladding, weatherboards, building boards, cement pipe columns, textured paint and some vinyl floor coverings. Traces of it can even be found in insulation on hot water pipes and stoves and ceiling insulation products.

    If you believe you may come into contact with asbestos when on the job site, cover your clothes with a disposable overall and wear a hat and gloves to protect your skin. Work in well-ventilated areas where possible, and wear either a half-face particulate respirator or half-face filter respirator fitted with a dust cartridge. Ordinary dust masks are not effective when dealing with asbestos.

    Lay down plastic drop sheets around the work area to catch any of the mineral, and wet the surface  of the affected area to avoid dust particles floating through the air. Don't use power tools on any asbestos products as they can disturb the mineral and increase your risk of inhalation.

    After removing the material, use a mop and specially-designed fibrous collection vacuum to remove any trace of asbestos. Bag up the waste and dispose of it in an approved facility.

    Licensed asbestos removalists are available across Australia to safely and effectively distribute asbestos products.

    Nathan Mills portrait image
    Nathan Mills
    Nathan is a seasoned Kennards Hire team member passionate about empowering DIYers in their projects. He loves everything DIY and brings together years of equipment and project experience to help customers get the right tools for their next job.