If you work as a painter, there's a good chance you will work with small amounts of bonded asbestos, as part of your daily work activities. It is often very difficult to identify the presence of asbestos by sight even though there were some areas of a home or building where materials containing asbestos were more commonly used.
Materials containing asbestos are mostly found in eaves and wet areas such as bathrooms and laundries, in the form of asbestos cement sheeting (fibro). If you're not sure whether a material contains asbestos, it's safest to treat it as though it does. DO NOT sample asbestos yourself. Sampling can be more hazardous than leaving the material alone unless you are appropriately trained.
The most accurate way to find out whether a material contains asbestos is by engaging a Licensed Asbestos Assessor to inspect and test it where necessary.
You must have a Class ‘B’ license to remove more than 10 square meters of asbestos
Once a structural area of a buildings, workplaces or dwellings is identified as containing asbestos, day to day preparation procedues used by a painter are NOT allowed. As a painter the preparation and painting of areas containing asbestos should only be carried out if the area is in a good condition.
Where areas contain small cracks or holes filling is allowed however the damaged area should be MINIMAL.
DO NOT sand any filled areas.
Over time, heavy growth of lichen and moss may build up on asbestos roofs or fences. This can be removed by gentle scraping and simultaneous low pressure water washing, The water must be collected and disposed of as contaminated waste. The surface should then be treated with a chemical fungicide and left for seven days before low pressure washing.
In 2012, a painter in Brisbane used a water-blaster to clean a roof containing asbestos. It was reported to WorkSafe QLD and asbestos fibres were found all over the backyard. The painter was ordered to clean up the hazard within 48 hours. He did not comply and was fined $60,000, and lost his contractor’s license.
When repainting asbestos based roofs it is import to remember that asbestos can become very brittle with age and extremely slippery when wet.
If the area is significantly weather damaged or broken it should be left alone and replaced by the appropriate parties.
Asbestos Encapsulation coatings are membranes that seal the asbestos fibres and neutralise the hazard. They are cost effective method of maintaining building with asbestos materials. Always choose a sealant or paint specifically designed for use on asbestos materials that has a life of l0 years or more and can be reapplied over the top of the existing coat if required.
Asbestos encapsulation products should be applied to a minimum of 60 microns dry film thickness.
For high quality industry validated training guides, resources, assessment tools and learning materials for this unit, please contact the National Painting and Decorating Institute.