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Safe cleanup of storm damaged materials that may contain asbestos

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It is essential to protect yourself and others when removing debris, particularly when asbestos is concerned. The following procedure will help you to safely cleanup after a storm.

Preparation before commencing the task Equipment Potential hazards Storm and wind damage clean up

Equipment

The equipment used will be influenced by what is readily available following a storm event.

  • plastic sheeting, tarpaulins (new tarp is preferable) or old bed sheeting, curtains
  • plastic bags (thick 200 µm plastic is preferable) or plastic shopping bags or garbage bags that can be securely tied
  • duct tape or gaffer tape
  • bucket for water
  • rags or chuck wipes
  • garden hose
  • shovel or garden spade
  • PVA glue or acrylic paint
  • paint brushes
  • timber dunnage (to support the asbestos debris package off the ground)
  • personal protective equipment:
    • disposable P2 respirator
    • disposable overalls (eg. European standards type 5 and type 6) or old clothing (e.g. long sleeve shirts) that can be thrown away afterwards
    • gum boots or laceless boots.

Always wear personal protective equipment when cleaning up debris that may contain asbestos.

Potential hazards

Protect yourselves from other potential dangers after a storm, such as fallen power lines and control the risk of falling from heights if on a roof.

  • Check the site for hazards from debris such as sharp edges or protruding nails.
  • If electrical lines are down - do not enter the area, ensure electricity supply has been turned off by a licensed electrical contractor or energy supplier.
Telephone lines Switchboard

Before picking up any asbestos containing material (ACM) debris, access to the area should be restricted by closing gates or doors and erecting signage or tape.

Temporarily wet, seal, or cover debris

If there is insufficient time to clean up the area immediately, several tasks should be completed as soon as possible.

  1. Keep ACM debris wet by lightly hosing with water or spraying with a mixture of 5 parts water and 1 part PVA glue.
  2. For building materials still in their original position, seal any small fractured or exposed edges with paint or PVA glue.
  3. Temporarily cover debris with a tarp or sheet, or similar. Keep the cover moist and pegged to the ground or weighed down.
Apply lightly sprayed water on the ACM debris
Apply lightly sprayed water on the ACM debris.
 
Damaged wall sheeting that is still in its original position can have PVA glue applied directly to the broken surface using a paint brush
Damaged wall sheeting that is still in its original position can have PVA glue applied directly to the broken surface using a paint brush.
Debris temporarily covered with a tarp and sheet
Debris temporarily covered with a tarp and sheet and edges weighted down.

Storm and wind damage cleanup

Remove hand jewellery such as watches and rings.

Put on your disposable overalls over your clothes (or wear old clothes you can throw away).
1. Put on your disposable overalls over your clothes (or wear old clothes you can throw away).
Put on gum boots or laceless boots.
2. Put on gum boots or laceless boots.
 
Put on the P2 disposable respirator and ensure the mask has a tight fit to your face and creates a good seal.
3. Put on the P2 disposable respirator and ensure the mask has a tight fit to your face and creates a good seal.
Pull the hood over your head.
4. Pull the hood over your head.
 
Lightly spray the debris.
5. Lightly spray the debris.
For small pieces of debris, invert a plastic bag and pick up the wetted debris directly into the bag. Note that shopping bags and regular garbage bags have only thin plastic and should only be filled to a quarter to prevent splitting.
6. For small pieces of debris, invert a plastic bag and pick up the wetted debris directly into the bag. Note that shopping bags and regular garbage bags have only thin plastic and should only be filled to a quarter to prevent splitting.
Or, pick up smaller pieces using a shovel to collect debris and soil immediately below debris, and place all into a plastic bag.
7. Or, pick up smaller pieces using a shovel to collect debris and soil immediately below debris, and place all into a plastic bag.
Double bag or triple bag collected debris to stop sharp pieces breaking through the bags. If the bag accidentally breaks then tape up the split with duct tape or insert into an additional plastic bag.
8. Double bag or triple bag collected debris to stop sharp pieces breaking through the bags. If the bag accidentally breaks then tape up the split with duct tape or insert into an additional plastic bag.
For larger pieces of debris, set up some timber at a convenient access point to the property for later disposal (this is known as dunnage). This will ensure the packaged debris is off the ground for slinging into a truck or skip later. Then place two tarps (or plastic sheeting, bedding sheet or similar) over the top of the timber to form the bottom of the package of debris.
9. For larger pieces of debris, set up some timber at a convenient access point to the property for later disposal (this is known as dunnage). This will ensure the packaged debris is off the ground for slinging into a truck or skip later. Then place two tarps (or plastic sheeting, bedding sheet or similar) over the top of the timber to form the bottom of the package of debris.
Place large debris directly onto the tarp (or similar) to support the base of the package. Place other debris carefully on top.
10. Place large debris directly onto the tarp (or similar) to support the base of the package. Place other debris carefully on top.
 
Wrap all the larger debris together with the first layer of tarp (or similar). Wrap it with a good quality tape.
11. Wrap all the larger debris together with the first layer of tarp (or similar). Wrap it with a good quality tape.
Wet wipe any horizontal flat surfaces around the storm damaged area using a wet rag once and then folding  in half to use a second time only. Do not wash out rags or re-use them. Dispose of rags in a waste bag and seal it.
12. Wet wipe any horizontal flat surfaces around the storm damaged area using a wet rag once and then folding in half to use a second time only. Do not wash out rags or re-use them. Dispose of rags in a waste bag and seal it.
Stand on a clean piece of tarp or plastic. Lightly spray your overalls or old clothes, and boots.
13. Stand on a clean piece of tarp or plastic. Lightly spray your overalls or old clothes, and boots.
Remove boots, followed by the overalls or old clothing.  Dispose of overalls (or clothing) and piece of tarp or plastic, you were standing on,  into a plastic waste bag.
14. Remove boots, followed by the overalls or old clothing. Dispose of overalls (or clothing) and piece of tarp or plastic, you were standing on, into a plastic waste bag.
Lastly remove your P2 respirator and also dispose of it in the waste bag.  Seal bag and wash hands.  Place this waste bag with other waste.
15. Lastly remove your P2 respirator and also dispose of it in the waste bag. Seal bag and wash hands. Place this waste bag with other waste.
Use the second layer of tarp (or similar) to further seal the package. Tape around the whole package. Look for sharp edges that may tear through the tarp (or similar) and reinforce with tape if required. Now shower and wash your hair.
16. Use the second layer of tarp (or similar) to further seal the package. Tape around the whole package. Look for sharp edges that may tear through the tarp (or similar) and reinforce with tape if required. Now shower and wash your hair.
 

View the film Asbestos - safe work procedure - storm and wind damage cleanup.

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