Asbestos Removal - Frequently Asked Questions

November 27, 2018

Frequently Asked Questions about Asbestos

1. What is an Asbestos Removal Control Plan?

An Asbestos removal plan starts with a document containing two parts.  The first part (Part A) is filled out by the removal licence holder prior to the asbestos being removed and consists of detailed data relating to that particular project.

The form identifies the building owner who has requested the work, the size and location of the area affected, plus the proposed controls to manage any emergencies that may arise.

These controls include barriers to prevent unauthorised access to the site, air particle control and a list of the people working onsite and any certificates they hold.

The asbestos removal licence holder is also required to complete a floor plan detailing the area of contamination along with exits and entrances, decontamination areas, the location of waste storage areas, any sites on the job that are used for containment of asbestos, unauthorised access areas, monitoring areas and other items related to completing the project safely and efficiently.

The operator is also required to survey the job site prior to the work starting, identify any potential hazards that may occur and then provide a remedy for these on the form.  Part B of the form is completed after the asbestos is removed and requires more detail on how the asbestos was disposed of, the amount disposed of, transport used and where the waste was taken to along with copies of disposal certificates and permits.

2. What is Class A and Class B asbestos?

Class A asbestos is the most dangerous type of asbestos as the fibres can become airborne very easily, in some cases by just simply touching the substrate.  The industry term for this is "friable asbestos" and requires the operator to hold a Class A certification to remove it.  Due to the high percentage of asbestos within the dust fibres, Class A asbestos is always to be treated with extreme care and only by an experienced, licensed operator.

Class B asbestos is typically asbestos contained within other products such as tiles, cement building products, roofing and piping.  The percentage of asbestos fibres is much less than Class A asbestos and the danger of airborne particles is not as high.  The substrate is usually deemed as safe if it is not disturbed and been contained although each case is treated individually, and no assumptions can be made.  Always get a survey done if you are concerned.

3. Can you legally remove asbestos yourself?

New Zealand law states that building owners are legally entitled to remove under 10m2 of Class B asbestos themselves, however this practice is seldom seen due to the extreme risk asbestos presents to untrained operators.  Always deal with companies who hold the necessary licensing in asbestos removal.

4. How much asbestos exposure is harmful?

The reality is there is no safe limit of asbestos exposure, even though symptoms may not appear for many years after exposure.  Friable asbestos in particular can contain concentrations of asbestos up to 100%, therefore even a small amount is deemed as unsafe and could present problems in future years for the person exposed.

The safest option is to always employ the services of licensed asbestos removal operators at all times to ensure your staff and yourself have no exposure to asbestos fibres.

5. How can asbestos be correctly identified?

The simple answer is by sending samples of the material to an asbestos testing laboratory via a licensed asbestos removal expert.  In doing so if the material is contaminated you can be sure that you as the building owner or homeowner won’t be put at risk when handling the material.  If you undergo an asbestos survey, testing is part of the procedure.

If you are concerned about potential exposure to asbestos, here are some areas that could be affected in your property:

  • Any cement products used in construction in older buildings
  • The flat white sheeting used in ceilings often seen in schools and older office blocks
  • Areas that are protected from heat such as the insulation board that sits behind the power meter
  • If you have a corrugated roof and it is not made from steel it may well be a cement/asbestos tile
  • Older buildings used asbestos based wraps around piping, particularly in hot areas such as boiler rooms
  • Old vinyl tiles could contain asbestos

If buying an older property - be it commercial or residential - a wise investment is to pay an expert to survey the property for asbestos hazards.

We hope that helps answer some of your questions and if you need help with any asbestos related query, please do not hesitate to contact our team here.


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