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OSHA’s Asbestos and Commercial Buildings Requirements

Known for its fire-resistance, asbestos was once widely used in a variety of products, from automobile brake pads to construction
materials. Asbestos exposure was linked to lung scarring, lung cancer, and a variety of other health problems in the mid-1980s.

Numerous individuals who worked in construction, plumbing, HVAC, and other vocations that exposed them to high levels of asbestos
developed severe and even fatal illnesses.

Who Is at Risk of Being Exposed?

In the late 1980s, asbestos was phased out of widespread use in buildings. It was largely prohibited in 1989 and is now rarely used.
Those who work in commercial buildings constructed prior to 1980 may still be in danger of asbestos exposure. Unless your building has
already gone through a full asbestos removal process, asbestos is likely still present in mouldings, ceiling tiles, insulation, and other

When asbestos-containing materials are left alone and in good condition, they do not leak particles into the air and pose little risk to
employees. They become harmful only when they are injured or disturbed. As a result, the majority of the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration’s (OSHA) asbestos safety guidelines focus on the proper cleaning, handling, and disposal of asbestos-containing

Limits of exposure

OSHA regulations governing permissible levels of asbestos exposure vary according to the type of work performed. OSHA classifies
construction methods into four categories, with Class IV being the least hazardous and Class I being the most. Class IV entails the
cleanup and removal of asbestos-containing waste and debris resulting from demolition and other construction activities. Class I entails
the removal and handling of asbestos-containing materials. As the level with the highest risk, Class I activities are the most highly

There are exposure guidelines for employees of all classes. According to the OSHA website, employers must guarantee that no employee
is exposed to an asbestos airborne concentration greater than 0.1 f/cc over an eight-hour time-weighted average (TWA). Additionally,
employees must not be exposed to an airborne asbestos concentration greater than 1 f/cc averaged during a 30-minute sampling period. ”

How to Reduce the Risk for Employees

If you operate a commercial building where maintenance and cleaning employees may come into contact with asbestos, the best method
to keep them safe is to limit their exposure time and provide protective gear for anybody who may come into contact with asbestos-
containing materials. If your facility was constructed before 1990, you should presume that cleaning and maintenance employees may
come into contact with materials containing asbestos. According to OSHA, asbestos identification and abatement must be done by a
“competent person,” who must hold a special certification.

Monitoring for Asbestos

Asbestos testing and monitoring can help ensure that your staff are not exposed from the start. Having a competent organisation conduct
an asbestos inspection can assist you in determining the potential amount of exposure for cleaning, maintenance, and repair personnel,
as well as for individuals who are regularly in the building. If your inspection reveals elevated levels of asbestos, you may wish to have the
company remove it completely.

OSHA Requirements for Commercial Building Renovations

When asbestos is disturbed, it becomes extremely deadly. If you own an older commercial building, you should anticipate that renovations
or other adjustments will cause harm to the structure’s original components. This includes ductwork and other HVAC system components
that may contain asbestos.

Prior to undertaking any job, it is necessary to inspect the area to be renovated. Allow a professional firm to conduct the inspection, as
OSHA has stringent requirements for testing and removal. If an inspector concludes that there is asbestos present in an area that is going
to be refurbished or repaired, precautions should be made to minimise its exposure to personnel who work in the building.

The best method to protect employees is to have a competent business execute asbestos removal and/or abatement prior to any
renovations or repairs. Additionally, you’ll need to make efforts to contain construction debris and prevent particles from spreading to
other areas of the structure.

Education and signage

The majority of personnel are unlikely to be exposed to asbestos if asbestos-containing materials are not disturbed.However, cleaning
and maintenance personnel should be thoroughly taught to avoid unintentionally releasing asbestos particles into the air.

Comprehensive training can help prevent these personnel from drilling, cutting, or engaging in other actions that can damage finishes and
cause dust. Because these positions frequently have a high turnover rate, installing warning signage throughout the building will assist
workers in identifying objects that should not be touched.

Signage should advise that the area’s materials contain asbestos and should not be exposed to dust-generating activities.

Notification requirements

Offices, retail areas, multi-unit apartment buildings, hotels, restaurants, and hospitals are all examples of commercial structures.As the
owner of a commercial building, you are expected to advise occupants, employees, retail tenants, apartment residents, and others who
spend substantial time in the facility about the presence of asbestos.
Before beginning any repairs or renovations that may result in dust and debris, building residents should be alerted and evacuated while
repairs are being completed.

Asbestos exposure can have serious repercussions, and keeping people safe at work is a major obligation for any property owner.
Schedule an examination if your building is older and has not been tested for asbestos. When employees and other building occupants
are aware of the presence of asbestos-containing components in the structure, they can avoid disrupting these materials.

Conduct an examination before beginning work on your building while renovating or repairing it, and ensure that all construction workers
are wearing suitable protective equipment. Taking these basic actions will protect your personnel and ensure the safety and health of
your renters and other building inhabitants.

How Can Asbestos Removal 24/7 Assist You?

Our team of asbestos abatement specialists can test and inspect your structure for asbestos and remove any fibres that may be present.
We follow all OSHA guidelines and procedures while removing asbestos. If you’re concerned about potential asbestos exposure in your
business building, contact us immediately to schedule an inspection.

first appeared on December 7th, 2020

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