Managing asbestos is important if you own a building. However, if you have a large portfolio, that means you’re responsible for the asbestos management of several properties, which can be an intimidating prospect.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide on how to manage asbestos with a large property portfolio. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about managing asbestos across your properties, so you can keep them safe and compliant.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fibre that was once widely used in construction and manufacturing due to its heat-resistant properties.
It was banned from construction due to its carcinogenic properties, however it still remains dormant in a large number of construction materials, which is why it needs to be managed in professional and residential buildings.
Why is it important to manage asbestos with a large property portfolio?
As the owner of several properties, you are responsible for the safety of their occupants, as well as the compliance of these buildings with government safety regulations.
This means you need to have the proper procedures in place to identify, manage and facilitate the removal of any asbestos containing materials (ACMs) that could potentially pose an exposure risk.
Identifying asbestos in properties
In order to manage asbestos, you need to identify it first. The process of identifying asbestos containing materials, as well as the recording and storage of their data, play a pivotal role in the management of asbestos.
Across multiple properties, this can be difficult, as the process requires a lot of coordination. However, it is compulsory, and it can be done.
How do I identify asbestos across multiple properties?
The most effective way to identify asbestos across multiple properties, is to hire a licensed and experienced asbestos professional who can conduct a thorough inspection and testing of each property. This may include collecting samples of suspect materials and sending them to an accredited laboratory for analysis.
The asbestos professional should also create a comprehensive inventory of all identified asbestos-containing materials and develop a management plan for each property to ensure proper control and monitoring of the ACMs.
It is important to note that identifying and managing asbestos should only be done by trained and qualified professionals to ensure safety and compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
What types of asbestos materials are there to look out for?
There are many different ACMs that can be found across your large property portfolio, including:
- Thermal insulation materials, such as pipe insulation, boiler insulation, and furnace insulation.
- Flooring materials, such as vinyl tiles, sheet vinyl, and backing for vinyl sheet flooring.
- Ceiling materials, such as acoustic tiles and spray-on coatings.
- Wall materials, such as cement wallboard, plaster, and joint compound.
- Roofing materials, such as corrugated roofing and shingles.
- Electrical materials, such as electrical panels and wiring insulation.
Why can asbestos testing and management only be done by professionals?
Asbestos testing and management should only be done by professionals due to the potential health risks associated with exposure to asbestos fibres. Asbestos fibres are microscopic and cannot be seen with the naked eye, so it is important to have the proper training, equipment, and experience to safely identify and manage ACMs.
Professionals also have access to accredited laboratories for asbestos testing and are knowledgeable about the legal and regulatory requirements surrounding asbestos management. Attempting to identify and manage ACMs without proper training and equipment can put individuals at risk of asbestos exposure.
Additionally, improper handling and disposal of asbestos-containing waste can result in legal and financial consequences.
Developing an asbestos management plan
An asbestos management plan is a document that outlines how ACMs will be safely managed and controlled in a building or property.
Having an asbestos management plan in place for all of your different properties is an important step in managing asbestos across a large property portfolio.
Why do I need an asbestos management plan?
An asbestos management plan is a proactive approach to managing asbestos-containing materials and protecting the health and safety of those who use or work in the building.
The reasons for having an asbestos management plan are numerous, including;
- An asbestos management plan can help ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
- An asbestos management plan can help identify and manage the risks associated with ACMs, reducing the likelihood of exposure and minimising the potential impact if exposure occurs.
- An asbestos management plan can help ensure that ACMs are properly maintained and monitored to prevent damage or deterioration that could release asbestos fibres into the air.
- Having an asbestos management plan in place can demonstrate to potential buyers or tenants that you are aware of and have taken steps to manage any ACMs, if you are planning to sell or lease a property.
What goes into an asbestos management plan?
An asbestos management plan typically includes the following elements;
- Identification and assessment of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in the building or property; including a detailed inventory of all known or suspected ACMs, their locations, and their condition.
- Risk assessment and prioritisation of ACMs based on their condition, location, and accessibility.
- Control measures for managing ACMs; such as guidelines and procedures for safe work practices, such as handling and removal of ACMs, maintenance and repair of ACMs, and proper disposal of ACM waste.
- Monitoring and inspection procedures; such as developing a schedule for regular inspections and re-assessments of ACMs to ensure they are being properly managed and controlled.
- Emergency response procedures for accidental damage or exposure to ACMs.
- Training and awareness for building occupants, maintenance personnel, and other workers who may come into contact with ACMs.
- Record keeping and documentation procedures for maintaining accurate and up-to-date records of all ACMs, inspections, maintenance, and removal activities.
Who should be involved in developing the plan?
Developing an asbestos management plan should involve a team of qualified professionals with the necessary knowledge, skills, and experience to manage ACMs safely and effectively.
These stakeholders include;
- Asbestos professionals such as certified asbestos inspectors, management planners, and abatement contractors who have the necessary training and qualifications to identify, assess, and manage ACMs.
- The building owner or manager, who should have a good understanding of the building and its occupants and should be able to provide information about the building's use and history.
- Facility or maintenance personnel, as these individuals may be responsible for implementing the control measures outlined in the plan and should be knowledgeable about safe work practices for handling ACMs.
- Occupational health and safety professionals who can provide guidance on regulatory requirements and best practices for managing asbestos in the workplace.
- Legal professionals that can provide advice on compliance with applicable laws and regulations and can review and provide feedback on the asbestos management plan.
Why is it important to regularly review and update the plan?
In order to ensure the effectiveness of an asbestos management plan, you need to regularly review and update it to reflect various factors, such as;
- Changes in the building or property, such as renovations or upgrades, which can affect the condition and location of ACMs.
- Changes in regulatory requirements, as it is important to ensure that the asbestos management plan remains compliant with current regulations and best practices.
- The emergence of new information or technology that can improve the management and control of ACMs.
- Regular inspections and maintenance of ACMs, as they can help identify any changes or deterioration in their condition, which may require updates to the asbestos management plan.
Asbestos removal and remediation
Once ACMs have been identified, it is important to have them removed so they are no longer a hazard for the occupants of the various buildings in your portfolio.
When does asbestos need to be removed?
In general, ACMs that are in good condition and not likely to be disturbed may be left in place and managed through an asbestos management plan.
However, if ACMs are damaged or deteriorated, or if they are going to be disturbed during renovations or demolition activities, they should be removed by qualified professionals. This is because damaged or disturbed ACMs can release asbestos fibres into the air, which can be inhaled and pose a health risk to building occupants and workers.
What are the steps for asbestos removal and remediation?
Typically, the steps for asbestos removal and remediation are;
- Consult your asbestos management plan to determine the procedures necessary for removal and disposal from your building
- Set up a containment area around the site where the removal will take place, as well as a site for safety measures such as PPE and respirators
- Consult professional asbestos removalists to ensure that ACMs are removed safely and effectively using reliable methods
- Once the ACMs have been removed, consult professionals to ensure the work area is thoroughly cleaned using special HEPA-filtered vacuums and wet wiping techniques, and clearance testing is conducted to ensure the air quality in the work area meets regulatory requirements
- Update all documents, such as asbestos registers and asbestos management plans
Asbestos awareness training
Asbestos awareness training plays a pivotal role in the management of asbestos across a large property portfolio.
Employers have a legal responsibility to provide asbestos awareness training to their employees who are at risk of being exposed to ACMs.
In addition, building owners and managers are also required to provide asbestos awareness training to their occupants to ensure they are aware of the risks and the proper safety procedures to follow.
Asbestos awareness training should be conducted on a regular basis to ensure that employees and building occupants remain up-to-date with the latest information and safety procedures. The frequency of asbestos awareness training will depend on the specific regulatory requirements and the level of risk associated with ACMs in the workplace or building.
Where can I go to find the asbestos regulations associated with my state?
How can Octfolio help me manage asbestos across my large property portfolio?
Octfolio is an asbestos software solution that helps you organise all of your ACM assets across multiple locations, so you can easily manage asbestos assets across all of them.
Octfolio, gives you every function required to successfully handle all aspects of ACM management, such as;