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Asphalt (bitumen)

Work with asphalt includes laying different types of road asphalt, laying mastic asphalt, roofing work using bitumen products, bridge insulation and dampproofing, etc. using bitumen products.

Asphalt products (bitumen) will normally be classified as hazardous substances or materials.

When working with asphalt materials, air contamination which is harmful to health may occur, and some products may cause eczema if they come into contact with the skin.

If asphalt materials cause problems in respect of health and safety, they must be replaced with other, less hazardous materials.

Safety arrangements

Work site usage instructions must exist before work with asphalt and bitumen materials commences. When working with recycled materials, it is sufficient to prepare a written instruction.

Bitumen solutions which contain organic solvents for adhesion must not be used. However, if this is necessary – as regards the traffic to use the surface, for example – they may be used over the period 1 October to 1 April following consultation with the working environment organisation.

There are currently technically suitable products for adhesion and surface treatment which can be used to replace products containing organic solvents.

The temperature must be as low as possible when working with asphalt materials. In addition, it is necessary always to observe the set maximum usage temperature for bitumen types.

Natural and mechanical ventilation

Outdoors, it is necessary to plan asphalt work so that it does not take place directly within the smoky area and so expose employees to asphalt smoke. The direction of the wind must be taken into account.

Arrangements must be put in place in the form of e.g. enclosure, use of a cover on the boiling container, process ventilation, driver’s cabs with overpressure and similar in order to prevent air contamination which is harmful to health from being inhaled.

To prevent exposure to asphalt smoke, work outdoors must be planned as far as possible so that it does not take place directly within the smoky area. It may be necessary to take the direction of the wind into account during planning.

When using machinery, exposure to asphalt smoke can be avoided by using cabs with overpressure or filters, or by using other technical solutions such as a heat shield over flat iron.
In the case of asphalt work in backyards and other areas where there is poor natural ventilation, for example, the smoke can be removed mechanically using a grain blower, for instance.

When working with asphalt indoors, e.g. in industrial buildings and warehouses or when carrying out asphalt work in tunnels, smoke and exhaust gases can be removed by means of process ventilation.

Personal protective equipment

Respiratory protection must always be available which must be used when it is not possible in any other way to prevent the development of air contamination which is harmful to health. Normally, as a minimum it is necessary to use a half mask with A2P2 filter (must be used over a maximum of three hours over the course of one working day) or turbo equipment with the same filter type.

If there is any risk of skin contact, it is necessary to use personal protective equipment such as appropriate gloves, footwear and protective clothing. This equipment must prevent the penetration of splashes and particles, as well as any solvents. When working with hot asphalt materials, personal protective equipment must be able to withstand heat. Protective clothing must be changed when it has been contaminated with asphalt or emulsion.
The employer will provide protective clothing, gloves and footwear – and these must be changed regularly. The employer must deal with washing and maintenance, while you are obliged to use the personal protective equipment. This protective equipment must not be taken home.

Protective clothing must be changed immediately if it is soaked. A clean set of clothing must always be available.


Work must only be carried out by people who have completed special training or who have received sufficient instruction from a person who has completed special training approved by the Working Environment Authority. This instruction must be repeated at intervals of 4 weeks until special training is completed.

Welfare and health measures

There must be access to changing, toilets and bathroom facilities with hot and cold water, as well as canteen facilities which are kept free of asphalt.

If work is not taking place close to site huts or assembly points with bathrooms, you must take soap and water and towels along to the work area.

Cleaning: Changing rooms, bathrooms and canteens must be cleaned regularly.