ASBESTOS AWARENESS. Environmental Health And Safety. MAINTENANCE CONTRACTORS

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1 ASBESTOS AWARENESS MAINTENANCE CONTRACTORS Environmental Health And Safety March 2007

2 ASBESTOS AWARENESS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF GUELPH What is Asbestos? The term asbestos refers to a number of naturally occurring mineral silicates that differ in chemical composition and are characterized by long, thin fibres that can be easily separated. Asbestos is divided into two mineral groups:- serpentines and amphiboles. Chrysolile (white asbestos) is the only fibrous member of the serpentine group of minerals. It is the most common type of asbestos used, accounting for approximately 90% of the world asbestos production. Amphibole asbestos fibres differ from the flexible, curly chrysotile fibres in that they are straight and needle-like, a characteristic that apparently gives amphibole asbestos a greater tendency to become airborne; this is an important consideration in controlling exposure. Two types of amphibole asbestos have been widely used: amosite (brown asbestos) and crocidolite (blue asbestos). Anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite asbestos have been rarely used commercially but are occasionally found as contaminants in asbestos-containing materials. Uses of Asbestos The many unique characteristics of asbestos, including fibre strength, low thermal and electric conductivity, high chemical and fire resistance and ability to absorb sound makes it well suited to hundreds of applications with as many as 3,000 separate uses identified. Since 1973, the manufacture and uses of asbestos products have undergone a continuing decline as a result of concerns regarding the health effects of asbestos, legal and liability considerations and regulatory considerations. In 1973, the spray application of asbestos insulation ceased when new regulations were introduced under the Ontario Construction Safety Act. Also, in 1973, the major Ontario suppliers of pipe and boiler insulation stopped using asbestos in their products, although some

3 installations continued until around While some asbestos applications were prohibited by law (eg. sprayed fireproofing and thermal insulation on pipes, etc.), others were no longer manufactured but were still available until the early 1980s. While many new building-material installations are asbestos-free, there is a legacy of asbestoscontaining materials in many University buildings, particularly those built before the early 1980s. These asbestos-containing materials may include: Sprayed fireproofing used to maintain the fire integrity of structural steelwork in buildings. Thermal insulation used as lagging for boilers, heaters, pipes and hot water tanks. Acoustic or decorative finishes have been applied to ceilings and walls Vermiculite insulation (e.g. Zonolite-brand) used as a loose fill insulation inside masonry block walls of buildings. Asbestos-cement sheets used for roofing and cladding of buildings, decorative and acoustic paneling, laboratory table tops and internal sidings for fume hoods and ovens. Asbestos-cement pipe used for electric and telephone conduits, water supply, sewage, irrigation and drainage applications. Asbestos floor coverings (vinyl tiles and vinyl sheet flooring. Acoustic ceiling tiles Paper and felt products including roofing felts, gaskets, pipeline wrap, table pads, heat protective mats and appliance insulation applications. Asbestos textile products including gaskets, thermal and electric insulation, welding curtains and protective clothing.

4 Coatings, sealants and adhesives including roofing, wall-treating compounds and gap and hole fillers. Some of these asbestos-containing materials are friable, meaning that when dry they can be crumbled or powdered by hand pressure, thereby releasing asbestos fibres to the air where they can be inhaled. Examples of friable materials include sprayed fireproofing on structural steelwork, thermal insulation on mechanical systems and acoustic or decorative finishes on walls and ceilings. These asbestoscontaining materials can present a significant degree of risk to workers and building occupants when maintenance or renovation work is performed that will disturb them and appropriate precautions are not taken. Other asbestoscontaining products are generally considered to be non-friable (fibres are firmly embedded in a liquid or solid material) and are unlikely to be released during normal use. Examples include asbestos cement products, vinyl-asbestos floor tiles and acoustic ceiling tiles. Adverse Health Effects of Asbestos Asbestos fibres are present in the natural environment in both air and water. The average person will inhale between 1 and 2 million fibres per year. There is no evidence that this low level ambient exposure to asbestos causes any ill effects. Unquestionably, significant and prolonged exposures to airborne asbestos of building maintenance workers and workers in the renovation, maintenance and repair sectors of the construction industry have resulted in serious and debilitating diseases. These include: asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs), mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of the lungs/abdomen) and lung cancer; all can be caused by the inhalation of airborne asbestos. For each disease there is a long period of latency, usually 20 to 40 years, between first exposure to asbestos and the appearance of the disease; workers becoming ill today were likely exposed to significant levels of asbestos in the 1970 s and 1980 s. In these years, the

5 exposures of asbestos workers were often quite high since safety precautions were very poor. A number of less serious effects have been associated with asbestos exposure; pleural plaques (scarring of the lining of the lungs), asbestos bodies and warts (skin growths). These conditions are not harmful but serve as evidence of asbestos exposure. The mere presence of friable asbestoscontaining materials such as sprayed fireproofing and thermal insulation is not a significant risk to building occupants. After years of study and research, this was one of the conclusions of the Royal Commission on Matters of Health and Safety Arising from Use of Asbestos in Ontario (established by the Ontario Government in the 1980 s). Other more recent studies have substantiated this conclusion. Legislation in Ontario The Regulation respecting Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations made under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario was introduced as Ontario Regulation 654/85 and came into effect in March The regulation classifies asbestos-related activities according to the hazard they present and stipulates specific precautions that are required to maintain a safe work environment for workers and other building occupants. It requires building owners/employers to establish and maintain a management program for asbestos in buildings. In 2005 significant amendments were made to this regulation and in November 2005, Regulation 278/05 (Designated Substance Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations) came into effect. In summary, the amendments have resulted in more stringent requirements for the management of asbestos in buildings, reclassification of some asbestos-related activities, update of safe work procedures, enhancing respiratory protection for workers covered by the regulation and formal training requirements for workers and supervisors.

6 The Asbestos Management Program at the University of Guelph The University will take all actions necessary to maintain a safe work and study environment for faculty, staff, students, visitors and maintenance contractors. To support this, the University has a Policy regarding asbestos management and an Asbestos Management Program. As a general policy, the University maintains all asbestos-containing materials in a safe condition during normal building use and ensures all maintenance and renovation work involving asbestos is performed following appropriate procedures. Also, prior to any significant renovation of a building or part thereof, the University will ensure that a survey is available and may consider the removal of all friable asbestos-containing materials within the area of renovation. Under the authority of the Policy, the University s Asbestos Management Program establishes a comprehensive system to actively manage and rigorously control all asbestos-containing materials in University buildings and all activities which may disturb such materials, including maintenance, alteration and repair operations. The Program is written in accordance with the University s Health and Safety Policy, Asbestos Management Policy and the requirements of Regulation 278/05 (Designated Substance Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations, made under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario. Some basic requirements of the University s Asbestos Management Program are: written record identifying all locations and types of asbestos-containing materials in University buildings that will be readily accessible to building occupants and joint health and safety committees. This record will be updated, at least annually and will be made available on-line;

7 regular inspections of asbestos-containing materials to determine their condition and to assess the need for remedial action; provide appropriate information and training to all University employees who work with or may disturb asbestos-containing materials, their supervisors and others who contract or oversee work that may disturb such material; document the names and training dates of all University employees who work with or may disturb asbestos-containing materials; classify all asbestos-related work into types of work operations based on degree of hazard:- Type 1 (low risk), Type 2 (moderate risk) and Type 3 (high risk) provide appropriate work procedures for each classification of asbestos-related work (Type 1, Type 2, or Type3); prompt remediation of damaged asbestoscontaining materials; control of access to areas containing friable asbestos-containing material; communication of the program and when appropriate, asbestos-related work to building occupants, joint health and safety committees and others who may be affected by such work; appropriate scoping of proposed work to determine the likelihood of disturbing asbestos-containing materials; provide appropriate information to maintenance contractors who may disturb asbestos-containing materials and ensure that workers who perform such work are appropriately trained; control and monitoring of maintenance contractors performing work that may disturb asbestos-containing materials; document the names and training dates of

8 all contract workers performing work that may disturb asbestos-containing materials. Maintenance Contractors Should Be Aware That Asbestos-containing materials still exist in many University buildings. The location and asbestos-type of many of these materials are available from the Asbestos Inventory through the co-ordinator/manager of the project/maintenance work. Maintenance Contractors are sometimes required to conduct work that may involve the disturbance of asbestos-containing materials. Such work activities must be conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Asbestos Regulation 278/05 and the University of Guelph Asbestos Management Program. These activities must be classified into one of three types of work operations: Type 1 (low risk), Type 2 (moderate risk) or Type 3 (high risk). For each of these, the Asbestos Management Program stipulates stringent standard operating procedures that must be followed. For additional information, contact the co-ordinator/manager of the project/ maintenance work. Where it is discovered, that your original scope of work did not include asbestos work but it subsequently becomes apparent that this work involves/will involve (possible) disturbance of asbestos-containing materials, you must not proceed with the work: contact the co-ordinator/manager of the project/maintenance work. Inadvertent damage to asbestos-containing material must be promptly reported to the co-ordinator/manager of the project/ maintenance work so that it can be repaired. If you have questions regarding asbestoscontaining materials within the scope of your work, contact co-ordinator/manager of the project/ maintenance work.

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