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Hi, my name’s Jimmy, and I’m a tradie. By now you should have already watched our videos on asbestos hazards, risks, and identification, setting up your asbestos work area and personal protective equipment. If you haven’t, please watch them before commencing any work with asbestos. Before we start, I’ll remind you that SafeWork New South Wales always recommends that licensed asbestos removalists be used for any amount of asbestos removal work. A licensed asbestos removalist must be used to remove more than 10 square meters of non-friable asbestos or to remove any amount of friable asbestos containing materials. Wherever reasonably practical, you must first remove the asbestos containing material and replace it with a non-asbestos product. If it is not reasonably practical to remove the asbestos containing material, then here are some important steps you can take.
If you need to drill into asbestos to run cables or ducting, there are several things you will need before starting work, including a non-powered hand drill or a low speed battery powered drill. Battery powered drills should be fitted with local exhaust ventilation or LEV dust control hood wherever possible. Disposable cleaning rags or wet wipes. Wet wipes are used in this video. A misting spray bottle filled with water, adhesive duct tape, sealant, heavy duty plastic sheeting, minimum 200 microns thick, asbestos labeled heavy duty polyethylene asbestos disposal bags, minimum 200 microns thick, a HEPA filtered H-class industrial vacuum cleaner, and PPE and RPE as described in the PPE video. Segregate your work area. Tell people you’re working there and put up warning signs and barrier tape. Set up the asbestos work area with heavy duty plastic sheeting to cover any surface that could come contaminated.
If drilling outdoors, avoid working in windy environments where asbestos fibers can blow around. If you’re drilling a hole into ACM sheeting, tape the point to be drilled and the exit point if you can to prevent the edges from crumbling. Use a low powered drill with local exhaust ventilation. These are reasonably inexpensive and attached to the H-class industrial vacuum cleaner and your drill to prevent the release of asbestos fibers. If you can’t get one of these, then shadow vacuuming is the next best option followed by gels and pastes. Once you have drilled through the tape, use wet wipes to clean off the drill bit and any debris off the wall. Dispose of the wet wipes as asbestos waste as they will contain asbestos dust and fibers. Seal the edges or where you have cut with a sealant. If you are passing a cable through, insert a sleeve to protect the inner edge of the hole.
SafeWork New South Wales recommends that local exhaust ventilation is used if you are drilling downlight holes into a ceiling and are working above your head. If you’re drilling a hole into a wall and do not have local exhaust ventilation or a class H HEPA vacuum, then use the following steps. Tape the point to be drilled and the exit point if you can. To prevent the edges from crumbling, mark the spot to be drilled. Get a polystyrene cup and fill the inside of the cup with shaving cream or gel. Put the drill bit through the hole in the cup so that the cup encloses the drill bit. Make sure the drill bit extends beyond the lip of the cup. Align the drill bit with the marked point. Ensure the cup is firmly held against the surface to be drilled. Drill through the surface. Remove the drill bit from the cup, ensuring that the cup remains firmly against the surface. Remove the cup from the surface. Use wet wipes to clean off the paste and debris from the drill bit.
Dispose of the wet wipes asbestos waste as they will contain asbestos dust and fibers. Seal the cut edges with sealant. If a cable is to be passed through, insert a sleeve to protect the inner edge of the hole. It’s important to decontaminate your tools, work area and yourself after doing the work. Clean your equipment using wet wipes. Roll or fold the plastic you have set up in the asbestos work area. Use wet wipes and/or a H-class HEPA filter industrial vacuum to clean any visible dust or debris in the area. Place all of this in an asbestos labeled waste bag and follow the steps in the decontamination video as to how to double bag and gooseneck. We hope that this video has provided some information to you as to how to keep safe when working with asbestos. Make sure you watch the video on decontamination next. For more information or for a list of licensed asbestos professionals, visit www.safework.nsw.gov.au/asbestos or call 13 10 50. Remember that if you need to work with asbestos you need to attend asbestos removal training.
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