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Mineral wool and other insulation materials

Insulation with mineral wool

Mineral wool (stone or glass wool) is used extensively for insulation. When working with mineral wools products, mineral fibres of varying sizes are released. The larger fibres can cause itching and rashes as they cut small scratches in the skin. The fibres can also irritate the eyes. The smaller fibres can block the nose and cause pain in the nose and throat. Working with mineral wool may cause bronchitis.

Various forms of mineral wool insulation may have effects which are harmful to health in the case of dusty work, and these effects must be taken into account when considering product selections and working methods. The least dusty product must be selected as far as possible.

If possible, choose standardised, sealed and specially ordered shaped products so as to reduce cutting.
Choose to insulate from outside and from the top and before structures are closed, such as lofts. Avoid placing insulation above head height. Prepare the structure so that you can use standard insulation materials.

The supplier and employer must prepare usage instructions providing information on health risks and what safety precautions must be taken with regard to the product selected.

Working with old mineral wool

Mineral wool dating back to before 2000 is suspected of being carcinogenic, and therefore it is necessary to protect yourself from fibre and dust if you have to remove or relocate this wool.

Use suitable respiratory protection (at least a half mask with a P2 filter). Wear gloves, safety goggles and dust-repellent workwear. Clothing must not be separated at the waist, and it must fit snugly around the wrists, ankles and neck and have no pockets or holes. Any head covering must have a peak.

Lofts with roof cladding using Eternit panels containing asbestos

When performing any work on lofts where the roof cladding is made up of Eternit panels containing asbestos, it is necessary to examine whether there are any asbestos fibres in the room, particularly in the insulation material laid. If there are, the work is subject to the executive order on asbestos, which includes special requirements in respect of training, protective equipment and welfare arrangements.

However, the work is only subject to the rules on asbestos if the work involves handling of asbestos (e.g. if you are removing contaminated insulation, but not if you merely have to pass through the room in order to work on a chimney or technical installation, for example).

Insulation using new insulation materials

New insulation may also include paper wool, flax, perlite, wood fibre, etc.
Plan the work process in a manner which results in as little dust as possible being given off. See the section above on insulation with mineral wool.

Especially dusty work

Especially dusty work may include:

  • removal of old insulation,
  • insulation above head height, depending on the insulation material,
  • extra insulation in places which are difficult to access, including roof spaces, technology corridors, basements and other enclosed spaces with poor ventilation, depending on the insulation material,
  • injection or laying of granulate products.

There are more stringent requirements for the arrangements in the event of especially dusty work. Work must be planned so that it does not unnecessarily affect other works in the vicinity.

It is necessary to remove, as far as possible, contamination at the site where it occurs. This must normally take place by means of ventilation.

Employees must have access to changing facilities, with separate storage of everyday clothes and workwear. It must also be possible to take a hot shower.

Cleaning

Cleaning must take place in a manner which gives off as little dust as possible, e.g. by vacuuming or washing. Floors must not be dry-swept or cleaned with compressed air.
Where possible, floors should be kept damp during work in order to restrict the amount of dust given off.