If you are looking for asbestos containing materials in your workplace, you have to know for sure whether or not you have a low density asbestos fibre board as well. This board is a type of wood product that comprises wood fibres that are reconstituted into a hard board used for construction.
This article is going to discuss the relationship between asbestos and boards, as well as what you should do if you suspect that there are asbestos boards in your workplace.
What is asbestos fibre board?
Asbestos was widely used in the Australian construction industry for the purpose of insulation from the early 1800s to 2003 (the year in which its use was banned). One of the ways that construction workers installed asbestos into buildings was through the use of low density asbestos boards.
These are a compressed low density board containing asbestos fibres in a calcium silicate plaster. Like any other asbestos containing materials, they release hazardous asbestos fibres into the environment when broken.
Where is asbestos fibre board typically found?
A low density asbestos board was typically used for thermal and acoustic insulation, as well as fire protection and general building work inside the walls and ceiling panels of industrial and commercial buildings, education facilities and domestic premises.
However, due to changes in construction practices, it is unlikely that you’ll find low density asbestos boards in buildings constructed after 1982.
Does asbestos fibre board carry a high exposure risk?
Like with most asbestos containing materials, low density asbestos boards present a low asbestos exposure risk if they are in good condition and left undisturbed.
Of course, in a building where there is potential for ACMs such as low density asbestos boards, there needs to be protocols in place for the enclosure, sealing and removal of asbestos in order to eliminate the risk of ACM breakages that can lead to dangerous asbestos exposure.
How do I identify asbestos fibre board?
Low density asbestos fibre board has an appearance similar to construction resources such as plasterboard and asbestos cement sheeting (also known as fibro). When a low density asbestos board is in good condition and in a place where it cannot be disturbed, it can be difficult to visually distinguish between asbestos boards and other kinds of sheeting.
However, there are specific ways to identify asbestos board, such as;
One of the most obvious ways to identify low density asbestos fibre board is to check for labelling. On the rear side of the sheeting, there tends to be a label in large text for trade names such as Asbestolux or Duralux. However, don’t mistake the absence of a label for an absence of asbestos. There’s a reason that you should assume asbestos is present in materials that you suspect of containing asbestos.
Because low density asbestos fibre boards were commonly used as ceiling sheets and tiles for acoustic purposes, it is possible to identify these boards by whether or not they resemble acoustic sheeting.
A key difference between low density asbestos boards and other acoustic insulation ceiling tiles is that these boards typically have perforations with different patterns that makes them easier to identify.
Fibre board is typically softer than asbestos cement sheeting. This is because calcium silicate plaster, a much softer substance, is used to bond the asbestos fibres together.
When you tap fibre boards, they will produce a dull sound, indicating that they are soft and/or low in density. Another way to gauge the softness of boards is to use slight hand pressure to easily dent the surface of the board (of course, not enough to break the surface).
Fibre boards are not particularly strong (due to their low density). They bend and/or flex when met with pressure, and they are more likely to tear than they are to snap when they reach their breaking point.
When a contaminated board breaks, it is possible to see the asbestos fibres as the torn and broken edges of the boards will be fibrous, as their name suggests.
Because the fibre board is soft, it is easy to find the heads of fasteners, nails and clouts embedded within their surface. If you look closely at these boards, you can spot recessed fastener heads inside the surface.
If you are looking to remove a board, it is important to check for fasteners, as they can cause difficulty and risk breaking the board when you try to remove it.
Joins Between Sheets
When they were used in construction, the edges of these boards were typically bevelled or slanting and hand planed. When they were fixed together with other sheets, the end result would produce a “V-joint finish”, a slight recess that runs across the border connecting the separate sheets.
This recess is usually covered over with flat or moulded timber cover strips that you can use to identify a contaminated board.
How do I manage asbestos fibre board?
The answer depends on where the board is found:
- If it’s in good condition, and the risk of damage or disturbance is low, the board can be managed in place
- If the risk of damage and disturbance is high, the board needs to be prioritised for removal by a class A licensed removalist
Can Octfolio help me manage asbestos fibre boards?
Octfolio is a simple yet comprehensive asbestos software solution that lets you control the management of your asbestos assets, including asbestos boards.
It contains every function that you need in order to successfully handle all aspects of asbestos management services, including;