Why Asbestos Due Diligence is so Important
Asbestos due diligence
Employers and work site owners’ duties and responsibilities.
Seeking guidance and assistance from a qualified and professional asbestos consultant is the first step in the due diligence process.
Asbestos consultants can complete a survey and inventory that must comply with regulatory requirements and should also be able to recommend several capable and qualified asbestos removal contractors.
In general, a significant variance in bids should warrant a closer look.
Legislation in Canada gives employers and work site owners duties and responsibilities for their own directly hired workers as well as for the workers of other contractors. Although this is accomplished in different ways in each province, the same result follows. Some jurisdictions, such as the Yukon, Nova Scotia and Ontario, expressly define "employer" to mean a person who employs one or more workers or who contracts for the services of one or more workers, to perform work or supply services.In general, a significant variance in bids should warrant a closer look.
Regulators place an explicit duty on owners and employers to do their “due diligence” in regards to risk management at their facilities or job sites and all have potential accountability exposure to the asbestos hazards as well as negligent response to addressing asbestos.
For instance, in 2016, an asbestos abatement contractor in British Columbia was cited for multiple egregious breaches of the Workers Compensation Act and regulations for improper handling of asbestos resulting in over $500,000 in fines and was eventually permanently barred from the industry. The contractor in this story, in spite of his history as a severe violator was still getting work which means contractors, property managers, business owners and homeowners were either not doing their homework or unaware that this information was available to assist them in making more knowledgeable and safer decisions.
This contractor is not alone in their negligence as a quick search on many regulatory sites or search engines will reveal many current asbestos abatement contractors with numerous violations and fines. When faced with asbestos and needing to hire a hazardous materials abatement contractor, it is important to ensure you are hiring the right professionals to assist you or what should be a routine problem with an orderly response can become a much bigger issue.
The asbestos removal industry is heavily regulated. Inspectors and contractors who inspect and remove asbestos from buildings and facilities must be qualified to do so. Many, including consultants are not, and there are a number of very important steps that impact the cost of hazardous materials abatement
Experience and Professionalism Count
One of the first good signs of a quality asbestos abatement company or consultant is one that has been in the business for a long time. Be sure that the company you choose provides proven, properly performed abatement methods. The company should be able to tell you about their health and safety standards and the practices they choose to use to ensure that these standards are safe and adhered to.
Following are six important things to consider when hiring an asbestos abatement company:
Asbestos Survey & Inventory
Does the company encourage you to hire a third-party testing firm to complete an asbestos survey of your building as required by regulators? If a building renovation or demolition are planned, the asbestos consultant will need to do a destructive survey to ensure any asbestos concealed under flooring or behind walls and ceilings is identified. This can be challenging and experience can help considerably in keeping a job on track and contribute to the successful conclusion of a project.
Surveys for asbestos and inventories should always be completed by a *qualified third-party consulting company. There is a conflict of interest when the asbestos removal company tests its own work or performs its own survey.
Risk Assessment & Exposure Control Plans
A detailed risk assessment and exposure control plan are required by regulators and must be completed by the abatement contractor. This job safety analysis and plan will detail the risk factors and extent of the procedures for asbestos removal.
“Qualified person” means a person who; (a) has knowledge of the management and control of asbestos hazards through education and training, and, (b) is experienced in the management and control of asbestos hazards.
The asbestos removal site will need to be prepared for abatement and this process is dependent on many factors including whether the building is occupied or will have unprotected workers near the abatement area in addition to many other engineering requirements most of which are typically identified within the risk-assessment and exposure control plans developed for the project. These plans must be site specific and detailed.
The risk-assessment will also establish the work area as a moderate risk procedure or a high-risk procedure. All of the above needs to be completed by a *“qualified person”.
Hazardous Materials Removal
Removal of asbestos has to be completed by (often cross-trained) workers skilled in asbestos abatement who will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including HEPA respirators and hazmat suits. Worker access and egress is rigidly controlled and depending on the risk factor often requires multi-staged mobile decontamination units.
Final Cleaning & Air Testing
All surfaces in a contaminated work area must be thoroughly cleaned and decontaminated. This will involve vacuuming with a HEPA vacuum specially designed for this purpose and often multiple wiping of all surface areas. After the site supervisor is satisfied that the job has been completed satisfactorily, he/she will call for a third-party consulting company to perform air-test to guarantee safe and breathable air for unprotected workers. This is followed by a *qualified and accredited person completing an inspection who will then issue a Certificate of Cleanliness, if work is satisfactory.
Asbestos waste is packaged in special, labeled waste containers and transported to a landfill site authorized to accept asbestos waste. Waste asbestos must be manifested to ensure delivery at the authorized landfill and not dumped in a valley or side of a road as is often done by unscrupulous contractors.
Enviro-Vac is one of the oldest privately owned environmental contractors in Canada. They offer a full suite of services in hazardous materials abatement and decontamination including shrink- wrap containments and are available to work both small and large-scale projects across Canada. The head office is based in Surrey, BC.
If you have any questions about this article or would like to talk to us about hazardous materials abatement solutions, decontamination of facilities, high-risk containments or industrial vacuum cleaning, please call us on our toll-free number, (888) 296-2499.