COLUMN: Beware of asbestos after natural disasters
HOME and businesses owners and volunteers could at some time be faced with the clean-up and recovery of buildings damaged by disasters such as floods, storms or fires.
It's important people know the dangers posed by asbestos in these situations and stay safe.
Many buildings in the Clarence Valley, especially those buildings built before 1990, contain asbestos in many places, including flat or corrugated sheets (fibro) used for walls, ceilings, vinyl floor coverings, roofing, or in products such as pipes, electrical conduit and eaves.
Everybody needs to be aware the removal of friable asbestos, or 10sqm or more of non-friable asbestos materials, must be done by a licensed asbestos removalist.
If people do have to clean up small amounts of asbestos, council recommends they follow the comprehensive SafeWork NSW guidelines":
- DON'T break asbestos materials.
- DON'T walk on corrugated asbestos roofs, as they may collapse from the weight.
- DON'T clean asbestos roofs and other asbestos materials using high pressure water cleaners or water blasters.
- DON'T use power tools or any abrasive materials such as sanders on asbestos materials.
- DON'T dispose of asbestos waste into bins or with items for curb side collection.
If a disaster has occurred and buildings have been damaged, it is important to know the below information:
If you have been evacuated, do not enter your property until you are advised that it is safe to do so by emergency services. It is the emergency services responsibility to prevent access to disaster areas with known or potential asbestos material.
If the disaster has not caused widespread damage in the community, then it will be the responsibility of the individual property owner to arrange for the asbestos clean-up, usually through their insurance agency and licensed asbestos removalists.
For more information visit www.asbestosawareness. com.au or www.safework. nsw.gov.au