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What to do if you uncover or damage any asbestos materials

What to do if you uncover or damage any asbestos materials

Posted on Sunday 10th May 2015 by Graham

A common question we often get asked during our training courses is "what do we do if we uncover or damage any asbestos materials?" In this Blog post I will try to cover and answer this question for you.

We will look at some types of asbestos materials that you may come across doing a job and what to do if you damage these materials by accident.

Types of Asbestos Materials

First of all, asbestos isn't always going to be obvious so don`t assume there will be warning signs or that the presence of asbestos is going to be staring you in the face. For example, would you be able to spot asbestos contained in an old fuse board or in old cement pipes?

If you are going to be working in a pre-2000 building the chances are it is going to contain asbestos in some of the materials, so let`s look at some possible places where you could find it:

  • As mentioned already - old fuse boards or asbestos cement pipes
  • Lagging on an old water tank
  • Insulating boards on a fire surround
  • Old floor tiles
  • Asbestos cement sheeting
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Loose fill insulation
  • Sprayed coatings
  • Decorative coatings
  • Old fire blankets
  • Toilet cisterns
  • Partitions
  • Panelled fire doors
  • Gutters
  • Soffits
  • Downpipes
  • Asbestos cement panels

This list is not exclusive but will give you a good idea of possible places you could find asbestos.

Finding Asbestos Materials, what to do?

Ok so we have come across a possible asbestos material, what is the procedure now?

Firstly, I know it sounds obvious but stop work immediately!

Secondly, carry out a risk assessment and decide who will carry out the work, bear in mind you may need to bring in a licensed contractor to carry out the work.

Thirdly, try and minimise the threat or spread of contamination to any other areas and try to keep exposures as low as possible.

Lastly, clean up any possible contamination making sure you have the correct protective equipment and bag it securely and dispose of it separately and correctly.

Here is a good guideline of the procedures you should take:

  1. You have discovered or damaged asbestos materials that could pose a threat
    1. Stop work immediately!
    2. Keep everyone else away from the area
    3. Report the potential problem to the person in charge as soon as possible
    4. Place a warning sign where it can be clearly seen warning of a possible asbestos contamination
    5. You or the client must have the material analysed and sampled
  2. Does it contain asbestos?
    1. Yes, you or the client need to make an Asbestos Management Plan and then decide if you need to bring in an HSE Licensed contractor
    2. No, there is no action required
  3. Is there any asbestos debris on your clothing?
    1. Yes, a little dust on your sleeves or shoes, etc
    2. Get help and ensure everyone puts on RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment)
    3. Wipe down with damp rags
    4. Dispose of damp rags securely as asbestos waste
    5. Keep a record of the event
    6. Yes, a lot of debris, for example, in your hair, on your clothes and footwear
    7. Stay where you are and do not spread the contamination
    8. Call for help and put on your RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment)
    9. Wipe down with damp rags
    10. Undress, shower and wash your hair thoroughly
    11. Place all contaminated clothing, towels, etc in a plastic bag for disposal
    12. Leave all the wash facilities clean and free of any possible contamination
    13. Dispose of all the rags as asbestos waste
    14. Keep a record of the event

I hope this helps you and if you do need any advice or would like some specialist training please give us a call on 0800 612 4115 today or e-mail us at

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