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A control program is necessary when handling or using asbestos-containing material. The goal is to prevent or minimize the release of airborne asbestos fibres. The employer must make sure that the control plan is developed and implemented according to the requirements for their local government regulations.
In general, the control plan should address:
If you work maintaining or doing construction in buildings built before 1990, there are many products which may contain asbestos. Public and commercial building owners should keep an inventory of asbestos-containing materials to inform workers, tenants, authorities and contractors. Ask your supervisor whether asbestos is present in your work area. If you are unsure, check with a qualified asbestos removal specialist. Some provinces require specific training and steps to be taken before working with asbestos.
People can be exposed to asbestos when renovation or demolition activities are occurring. Small asbestos fibres can be released into the air when the following materials contain asbestos:
Any damage to materials containing asbestos should be reported to the appropriate authority, such as your occupational health and safety professional.
If asbestos is found while renovating in the workplace, hire a qualified asbestos removal specialist to dispose of the asbestos materials before beginning any other work. Do not disturb asbestos materials yourself. This action increases the risk of exposure.
In some jurisdictions (for example, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick), working with asbestos is closely regulated. Typically, the laws break the type of asbestos work into 3 classes:
A similar approach is used in the United States by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Note that the OSHA system uses the reverse order of numbering for the categories - for OSHA, Class I is the most potentially hazardous class of asbestos jobs, while Class IV refers to custodial activities where there is clean up of asbestos-containing waste and debris. Please check the regulations for your jurisdiction for an exact list of which activities are in each class for your area.
Type 1 (low risk) involves:
Type 2 (medium risk) involves:
Type 3 (high risk) involves:
Adapted from: Designated Substance - Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations, Ontario Regulation 278/05
American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) recommended exposure limit for asbestos is:
TIME-WEIGHTED AVERAGE (TLV®-TWA): 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter (f/cc)* - Carcinogenicity Designation A1
The TLV® basis for this rating is pneumoconiosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
*Respirable fibers - Fibers longer than 5 microns and at least 3 times as long as their diameter as determined by the membrane filter method at 400-450 X magnification (4-mm objective) using phase contrast illumination.
CARCINOGENICITY DESIGNATION A1 - Confirmed Human Carcinogen: Substance is carcinogenic to humans based on convincing evidence from human studies. For a substance assigned a TLV®, exposure should be controlled to levels as low as reasonably achievable below the TLV®. Workers exposed to a substance without an assigned TLV® should be properly equipped to eliminate virtually all exposure to it.
NOTE: In many Canadian jurisdictions, exposure limits are similar to the ACGIH TLVs®. Contact your local government agency to confirm the exposure limit in your area. Some jurisdictions have specific regulations respecting asbestos.
In general, anyone working with asbestos must be educated and trained on:
Again, please check your local jurisdiction for exact requirements. Some jurisdictions require that the worker receives and keeps with them an original valid certificate of completion of an instructional course that is approved by the jurisdiction.
Workers must wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) clothing and respirator for the type of work that they are doing. If workers require any PPE, employers should establish a PPE program that covers the selection, use and care of respirators and other PPE.
Respirators must be provided for workers working with or near asbestos. The respiratory equipment must be appropriate for the type of operation and the concentration of airborne asbestos. Respirators must be:
Protective clothing must be provided by the employer and should:
Before working with asbestos-containing material (ACM), employers should:
Controlling the spread of dust beyond the work area is critically important so that people outside of the work area are not exposed to asbestos fibres. The specific controls to achieve this vary from using polyethylene sheeting barriers for low-risk operations, to setting up a separate ventilation system, maintained under a negative pressure for high-risk work areas.
In many jurisdictions, regular medical monitoring is required for workers exposed to asbestos. This monitoring could include:
The records of medical examinations and clinical tests should be maintained by the physician who has examined the worker or by the person under whose direction the examination and tests have been performed.
More information is available from:
(*We have mentioned these organizations as a means of providing a potentially useful referral. You should contact the organization(s) directly for more information about their services. Please note that mention of these organizations does not represent a recommendation or endorsement by CCOHS of these organizations over others of which you may be aware.)