Asbestos have been classified by the Occupational cancer ILO Convention No. 139 as a carcinogenic (cancer producing) material. Asbestos workers have increased chances of getting two principal types of cancer: cancer of the lung tissue itself and mesothelioma, a cancer of the thin membrane that surrounds the lung and other internal organs. These diseases do not develop immediately following exposure to asbestos, but appear only after a number of years.
To comply with governmental requirements and minimize employee exposure, controls are necessary wherever there is a potential for exposure to airborne fibres. All work and work areas will be in conformance with the requirements of asbestos regulations made under schedule 1 (2) of Labour Act, 2007 (No. 11 of 2007, ILO Convention No. 162) concerning safety in the use of asbestos, and its accompanying Recommendation 172, Environment Management Act, 2007, and Occupational Cancer Convention, 1974 (No. 139). The asbestos removal guide or work plan must give proper removal, transportation and disposal procedures to be used by the selected contractor for the safe removal of all asbestos containing roofing materials.
The contractor shall submit pre-work submittals (one copy) for review, prior to work. The submittals shall contain, but not be limited to, all licenses; personnel information; performance; labour; and payment bonds (if required); and environment protection notification. The contractor is directed to fill out and submit the Chief Medical Officer of Occupational Health notification for the owner based on the timetable as set forth by the owner’s schedule. The scope of the project shall also include the removal of all observable and identified hazardous materials regardless of quantity. All small movable objects shall be removed from the work areas. Large moveable objects left inside each work areas shall be covered by a minimum of one layer of 4-mil polyethylene sheeting.
Replacement (if necessary) will be conducted by others or as directed by the owner’s contract agreement. The asbestos regulation 10 (4) made under schedule 1 (2) of the Labour Act, 2007 states that no person shall smoke, eat or drink in any asbestos area, where the concentration of regulated asbestos fibres in the atmosphere in such area is, or is likely to be, less than the exposure limit for asbestos. No admittance to the premises is permitted unless escorted by an owner’s representative or approved asbestos contractor/supervisor.
According to asbestos regulation 12 made under schedule 1 (2) of Labour Act, 2007 (Act No. 11 of 2007) an employer shall, in circumstances where it is not reasonably practical to ensure by means of engineering controls that each employee who may be exposed to asbestos is provided with and uses personal protective equipment (PPE) such as: coverall and headgear, safety boots, hard hats, goggles, gloves and respiratory protective equipment which will reduce the concentration of regulated asbestos fibres in the atmosphere inhaled by the employee to a level which is below the prescribed exposure limit.
Respirators shall be selected in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Occupational Health (Reg.189). The employer shall ensure that no respiratory protective equipment or protective clothing is reissued for use by any other person, unless it has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected properly serviced in accordance with the directions of the manufacturer or supplier and of these regulations.
The contractor shall develop emergency planning procedures prior to demolition and removal of asbestos hazardous materials initiation. This plan shall consist of, but not be limited to, emergency exit plans, notification procedures, fire extinguisher locations and the provision of first aid kits. Regulation 231 (1) states that the employer shall provide and maintain at all times a readily accessible first aid unit or station that contains a first aid kit made of durable material, marked with a green cross on white background. Both the contractor and the owner shall agree on these procedures.
All movable objects shall be removed from the containment area. Cleaning of contaminated items shall be performed if the items are to be salvaged or reused. Otherwise, they shall be properly disposed of as asbestos waste. All non-movable objects that remain in the containment area shall be covered with a minimum of 4-mil plastic sheeting, secured in place. The contractor shall ensure that asbestos waste or dust produced in workplace during stripping or removing asbestos roof sheeting is cleaned away promptly each day by means of vacuum cleaning equipment to prevent the release of asbestos dust in to the atmosphere. The contractor will spray asbestos materials with amended water, using airless spray equipment capable of providing a “mist” application to reduce the release of fibres. The asbestos material will be sprayed with water mist containing a wetting agent to enhance penetration.
The wetting agent will be a commercial product produced specifically as an asbestos wetting agent. A fine spray of the amendment water will be applied to reduce fibre release preceding the removal of the asbestos material. Hazardous waste and deposits shall be removed at intervals and by methods appropriate to the type of hazards which they constitute. Contaminants collected shall be disposed of without risk to the health of any person or the environment, and according to applicable statutory provisions and regulations, Reg. 183.
• Dr Moses Amweelo is a former minister of works and transport