Safety on construction sites in asbestos removal and disposal operations: actions to take, protective equipment to be used, technical-organizational measures

A manual of the Emilia-Romagna for building workers and for workers to clean-up operation and disposal of asbestos. Where is asbestos, safe behavior, and the technical and organizational measures, IPR.

On the occasion of the judgment n. 38891, filed Nov. 4, 2010, which sentenced 14 defendants for having caused the death of eleven workers due to inhalation of asbestos fibers, we present a document on asbestos risk. A document prior to the adoption of Legislative Decree 81/2008, but still very useful for the prevention of asbestos-related diseases.

The document in question is titled "How to work protected by asbestos risk - Manual intended to prevention: building workers and employees to the reclamation and disposal of asbestos" and was produced by the Department for Health Policies and l ' Department of School, Vocational Training, Higher Education, Labour and Equal Opportunities of the Region Emilia-Romagna with the scientific support provided by the Department of Public Health of the 'Azienda USL of Forlì and with the design and coordination of drafting of the New Quasco of Bologna.

This manual, with a simple and direct language, provides persons to carry out asbestos removal and, more generally, to the workers and managers of worksite, tools, reference standards and technical operating procedures to learn about the causes and nature of risk asbestos and the consequent preventive measures to be put in place.

In particular, the content is divided into three parts:

- In the first part shows the main preventive measures, the risks and damage caused by 'asbestos, the various types of asbestos, personal protective equipment;

- In the second part defines the operating procedures for the reclamation;

- The third part is provided a monitoring questionnaire for self-study.


An education about the dangers of asbestos can not be separated from knowing where you can find.

L 'asbestos began to be used significantly since the first decades of the last century. "It was first used for machines and systems with high operating temperatures (steam engines, internal combustion engines, chemical plants, etc..), As well as for garments that require high heat resistance. Later, with the start of production of pipes (water pipes and sewers) and asbestos-cement roofing, the use of asbestos has also expanded into building structures, such as chimneys, asbestos cement roofing sheets cement-asbestos ".

To those who perform work on construction sites the document recalls that asbestos in buildings can be found in:

- "Metal structures (load-bearing and technical);

- Walls and ceilings covered with asbestos by spray application to improve the performance of sound absorption and thermal insulation (gyms, theaters, factories, etc.).

- Applications such as elevator doors, downspouts asbestos-cement, curtains, decorations, fire insulation panels, insulation, pipes, floors (tiles vinilamianto), flues;

- Walls and ceilings, roofs in asbestos-cement sheets (asbestos) tiles. "

In particular, "approximately 75% of all asbestos was used in building and construction (cement), mainly as roofing sheets, pipes, pipelines and conduits."


Instead, in the industrial, asbestos was used in the following areas:

- "Shipbuilding coatings insulating and fire-fighting;

- Aviation industry coatings insulating and fire-fighting;

- Railway industry coatings insulating and fire-fighting;

- Automotive industry: brake linings and clutches, insulating applications;

- Plastics industry additives, reinforcing to various artifacts; chemical industry: filters and gaskets for various functions;

- Metallurgical industry: screens, protective clothing insulation of furnaces, boilers, etc..;

- Asbestos textile industry: fabrics, tapes, ropes, twines, yarns, upholstery;

- Other: overalls and protective fire fighting clothing or Heat, paper, paperboard, electrical insulators, paints, varnishes, talc. "


In the chapter on risk assessment for workers and the possibility of release of the fiber, indicates that it is important to distinguish asbestos-containing materials, from the most dangerous to least dangerous.

The danger of asbestos is "linked to two main factors:

- The ability to disperse the fibers in the air;

- The friability of the material ": the compact material is less dangerous than a brittle material."

In particular, the concentration of asbestos fibers in the environment in which a worker is influenced by his way of working, "in fact the removal of friable asbestos requires measures, measures to avoid the dispersion of fibers, much more effective than those used for the asbestos removal compact. "


Often in building maintenance work happen to discover asbestos-containing materials and you need to make a distinction between:

- "Works without noise, or work near asbestos-containing materials;

- Processing with noise, or work involving tampering with materials containing asbestos. "

In any case it is necessary to "the same level of attention even when the presence of asbestos is not declared". Any suspicion or doubt must be explained to the employer.

In case of suspicion of the presence of asbestos, the document - speaking directly to the worker - should these easy rules:

- 'Stop all activities;

- Notify your employer, who must take action to prepare the necessary procedures. "

Instead you should avoid:

- "Touch or move suspicious material;

- Drill holes in the suspect material;

- Support things on materials coated with substances of concern;

- Scraping, polishing suspect material;

- Damage to the suspect material with shock, contacts, cuts, removing things, equipment and / or furnishings;

- Remove suspect material;

- Crush suspect material. "


The measures provided for cleaning up spills of materials containing asbestos and inherent safety of workers, including:

- Technical, organizational and procedural;

- Personal protective equipment;

- Information and training;

- Health surveillance.


For example the technical and organizational measures for the removal of friable asbestos are related to the preparation / predisposition of:

- "Yard work;

- Confinement (confinement static, dynamic confinement / air extractors);

- Testing of the site (leak test);

- HEPA filters with high efficiency (for the capture of the fibers);

- Decontamination of personnel structure which includes: local uncontaminated (for dressing of workers), shower room (for the decontamination of workers), local equipment (local undressing worker's contaminated);

- Structure for decontamination of materials (packaging waste);

- Techniques and procedures to accomplish the removal of asbestos-containing materials, appropriate Personal Protective Equipment;

- Procedures for decontamination of the site (site clean up);

- Packaging and labeling of waste (for their removal from the site);

- Procedures for cleaning staff;

- Protection of workers;

- Environmental monitoring;

- Certification of local restituibilità quenched. "


With regard to PPE remember that to work is well protected from the risk asbestos wear the following PPE, in addition to those already provided for the construction work:

- "Clothing, disposable coveralls with a hood;

- Protective gloves;

- Footwear: boots, rubber boots to lose;

- Respiratory protection. "

Finally - detailed information, consult the document full of information, tables and explanatory pictures - some tips on some behaviors to avoid in relation to the use of PPE:

- "Use coveralls with poor abrasion resistance and shear during processing";

- "Use footwear is not sufficiently high, that are not covered by sweat pants, and open or perforated";

- "Do not use waterproof gloves, shorts, drilled and / or little cut-resistant and heat";

- "Use the Personal Protective Equipment Respiratory with beard, sideburns and glasses, why not allow a perfect edge seal face."


Note: This document is presented prior to the entry into force of Legislative Decree 81/2008, but still offers useful suggestions for the prevention of asbestos risk.




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