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Asbestos

Asbestos was used for insulation and for different panelling materials until 1986. Asbestos is carcinogenic and may cause cancer of the throat, lungs and pleura. People who smoke and are also exposed to asbestos are at greater risk of lung cancer.
Use of asbestos or materials containing asbestos is prohibited, but demolishing, repairing and maintaining buildings, etc. in which materials containing asbestos have been used is permitted. However, high-pressure flushing of materials containing asbestos (including Eternit roofing) is prohibited. It is possible to be granted an exemption for high-pressure flushing of individual systems, if cleaning will take place while giving off the least possible dust.

Materials containing asbestos which are removed, dismantled or otherwise taken away from their original location must not be put back up or be otherwise reused. This is applicable even if the materials are undamaged.

Demolition is understood to mean complete removal of a material containing asbestos within a limited area. If a material containing asbestos is removed inside buildings, etc., it is necessary to report this to the Working Environment Authority. The same is true for work which is not deemed to involve short-term or low exposure to asbestos, e.g. removal of slate cement panels containing asbestos on roofs, which cannot be removed in one piece.

Repair is understood to mean the enclosure and sealing of entire surfaces of roof, attic and wall claddings containing asbestos, for example.

Maintenance is understood to mean filling or sealing of small areas with small holes, e.g. from notices, decorations and fittings, sealing of individual intact, unperforated panels containing asbestos, and covering roof panels containing asbestos.

Minors under 18 must not work with materials containing asbestos or be otherwise exposed to asbestos dust. Working with materials containing asbestos is considered to be particularly hazardous work. People who work with internal demolition have to have undergone special training. In the case of other work involving a risk of contact with asbestos dust, employees must have received training and specially extended instruction. The employer must be able to document the fact that employees have undergone this kind of extended instruction.

Training and specially extended instruction must be undertaken for the following work, for example:

  • Work with enclosure and packaging of a material containing asbestos which is not in good condition.
  • Work with removal of water pipes made of asbestos cement in soil whereby a significant proportion of the material is shattered.
  • Removal of flat cement roof panels (slate panels) containing asbestos.
  • Clearing up after a fire or extensive storm damage, where there are large quantities of shattered material containing asbestos.
  • Primary cleaning in connection with demolition work.

Logs

If employees on site are exposed to asbestos during building or construction work/renovation, the employer must keep a log of this if the exposure to asbestos is not merely short-term with low impact and if the impact is deemed to be clearly below the limit for airborne asbestos.
This log must include information specifying the nature and duration of the work, as well as indicating the asbestos impact that has taken place. This log must be retained for at least 40 years after the asbestos impact has ceased. If the enterprise ceases to trade, the log must be sent to the Working Environment Authority.

External demolition of buildings under cover or total cover.

Planning and preparation
The general workplace assessment (APV) must be supplemented with a special assessment which describes how you can comply with the special asbestos rules. The special assessment may form part of the work plan to be prepared by the employer. The work plan must describe in detail how to handle asbestos safely and correctly. The building site’s health and safety plan (PSS) must also indicate where asbestos is present.

In the case of all demolition work involving materials containing asbestos – irrespective of whether these materials give off dust – the employer must always compile a work plan in respect of the use of necessary low-dust working methods, ventilation, personal protective equipment and removal of waste. In this way, it is possible to ensure a good working procedure during demolition work, during cleanup operations in connection with fire, or when working with removal of materials containing asbestos from buildings, devices and installations.

The work plan must indicate how asbestos and materials containing asbestos are to be handled. If a building is demolished, materials containing asbestos must be removed prior to demolition.

The work plan must also include cleaning work in connection with demolition work.

General safety arrangements:

  • Use working methods and tools which give off the least dust possible. Materials containing asbestos which are to be removed should be damped so as to prevent the creation of dust.
  • Remove dust wherever it develops. This can be achieved using mechanical tools with effective extraction.
  • Use respiratory protection if there is a risk of asbestos dust. Respiratory protection must be at least a half mask with a P2 filter (must be used for a maximum of three hours over the course of a working day). If a lot of dust is generated, the respiratory protection must have an air supply. Respiratory protection with an air supply must be used for a maximum of 6 hours over the course of a working day. In the case of demolition work, you must work with respiratory protection with an air supply for a maximum of four hours a day, and you must take breaks after at most two hours of work. In the case of particularly stressful work, it may be necessary to further reduce working hours.
  • Use dust-repellent workwear with a suit and hood, but without pockets. The suit must fit snugly around the neck and wrists, and you must change your workwear frequently and avoid wearing it during meal breaks.

Signs

The work site must be cordoned off so as to keep unauthorised people away. In addition, there must be visible signs bearing the words: “Pas på. Asbestarbejde. Ingen adgang for uvedkommende” [Caution: asbestos work. No unauthorised access].

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Waste

Waste containing asbestos, e.g. dust and filters must be damped, and it must then be stored and removed in closed, sealed packaging. The packaging must be labelled to indicate that it contains asbestos. Removal must take place as instructed by the municipality.

Cleaning

Effective cleaning of the work site is important. This is applicable to both external and internal demolition (removal) of building elements containing asbestos. Following indoor demolition, primary cleaning is required by vacuuming and then wet-cleaning. Dry sweeping is not permitted. Finally you have to vent the area, clean it again and then vent it again.
The vacuum cleaner must be suitable for the work and must therefore be able to prevent the escape of asbestos. The filters must be documented as suitable for the containment of asbestos, e.g. dust class H13.

Welfare and health measures

Access to changing and bathing facilities with hot and cold water must be available to anyone working with asbestos. They must have access to two lockers; one for clean clothing and one for dirty clothing. They must also have access to canteens which must not be used for work purposes. These rooms must be cleaned thoroughly at regular intervals.

Changing and bathing facilities must be placed in the immediate vicinity of the work area in the case of dusty asbestos work and demolition of asbestos. In the case of dusty asbestos work, changing and bathing facilities must be set up as two changing rooms, one clean and one dirty, where staff can pass from one to the other via a bathroom with showers. Thorough cleaning must be carried out regularly in the case of dusty asbestos work. Remember the instruction on the handling of asbestos in connection with cleaning.

Non-dusty work
Access to changing, toilet and bathing facilities with hot and cold water must be available. There must be access to canteen facilities which are kept free of asbestos, i.e. you must not carry in dirty protective equipment, etc.

Dusty work
Changing, toilet and bathing facilities with hot and cold water must be available directly next to the work site. There must be two changing rooms, one “dirty” and one clean, and access between the two changing rooms must take place via the shower room. There must be canteen facilities which are kept free of asbestos, i.e. you must not carry in dirty protective equipment, etc.

Cleaning

The work site, changing rooms, bathrooms and canteens must be cleaned regularly.

Personal hygiene

It is important to maintain good personal hygiene. Wash your face, lower arms and hands before taking breaks in the canteen and going to the toilet, and always at the end of the working day.
If you do dusty work, you must have a bath before taking breaks in the canteen, and always at the end of the working day.