Tasks and Responsibilities of an Asbestos Assessor
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral with various useful properties, notably its fire-retardant and insulation capabilities. As such, for a time, it was called the “miracle mineral” and used for products like bricks, concrete, pipes, roofing, and more.
However, in the early 1900s, research revealed the connection between asbestos exposure and diseases like cancer. Countries around the world soon developed laws surrounding the mineral and in 1984, New Zealand banned the importation of raw blue and brown asbestos.
Following these developments, the use of asbestos-containing products in construction became unpopular (though not illegal). Nevertheless, because asbestos was so widely used before it was linked to serious health conditions, it’s present in plenty of structures even today.
To lower or eliminate health-related risks, it’s important to properly remove asbestos from a building. This is particularly true if the asbestos is friable, which is the more dangerous kind. Of course, this job requires professional assistance—including that of an asbestos assessor.
What Does an Asbestos Assessor Do?
According to WorkSafe, an asbestos assessor is someone who provides air quality monitoring during asbestos removal work. In addition, they inspect the finished job to determine if it was performed properly and then validate it by providing a clearance certificate.
To be an asbestos assessor, you’re going to need the following qualifications:
1) An asbestos assessor licence.
You can take an asbestos assessor course to be licenced. Completing the course will certify you for NZQA Unit Standard 29768 (conduct asbestos assessment associated with removal).
2) A driver’s licence
3) Some work experience in the asbestos field. Having both class A and class B experience will definitely be an asset.
It will also be beneficial if the person has a tertiary qualification in fields like occupational safety, occupational, hygiene, or environmental health.
What Are the Responsibilities of an Asbestos Assessor?
Aside from providing asbestos clearance certification for both class A and class B jobs, other key duties for assessors include the following:
- Monitoring the air quality before, during, and after asbestos removal.
- Alert workers and the client the moment respirable asbestos fibres exceed the allowable limit (0.01 fibres per millilitre of air).
- Give the client and other involved parties a copy of the results of air monitoring and surface testing.
Other responsibilities include the following:
Asbestos Management Survey
Asbestos surveys are used to locate and identify where asbestos and asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are in a space or building. There are two general types of asbestos surveys: management and refurbishment/demolition.
A management survey is necessary before normal occupation (e.g., for office or commercial use), to ensure that the asbestos and ACMs are properly managed. This is especially important if there is any possibility that ACMs will be damaged or disturbed once the space is in use.
Asbestos Refurbishment and Demolition Survey (ARDS)
The other type of asbestos survey is an asbestos refurbishment and demolition survey (ARDs). As the name implies, this is conducted for buildings or parts of buildings that are going to be refurbished or demolished.
An ARDS is designed to help determine where all the asbestos and ACMs are located within a space so that they can be removed before the refurbishment or demolition work commences. Remember that asbestos used to be a popular construction material, so there’s a high likelihood for a structure to contain some form of asbestos.
Creating Reports and Reviewing Contractors’ Asbestos Policies
Reporting is an essential part of an asbestos assessor’s responsibilities. Beyond the results of the survey, an asbestos assessor also conducts a review of asbestos management and removal strategies. If there are any gaps or other issues that need to be addressed, the assessor makes recommendations accordingly.
Asbestos assessor reports usually include the following:
- information of the assessor
- location and photos of the ACMs
- air monitoring testing results (see below)
- a list of action items
Asbestos Air Monitoring
Asbestos air monitoring involves airborne asbestos fibre sampling, which can be used to determine how much airborne asbestos fibres are in the work area.
There are two common ways to do this process. One is called the membrane filter method, where the air sample is collected using a membrane filter attached to a pump. The fibres are then measured and expressed as fibres per millilitre of air.
The other method is SEM-EDX, or scanning electron microscopy—energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis. This microscope is capable of distinguishing ultra-small fibres, which helps the assessor determine if the substance is asbestos or something else.
Liaising With Clients
Client liaison is an important part of an asbestos assessor’s responsibilities. After all, they don’t have the ultimate power to make the changes needed to render the structure safe and free from asbestos.
After submitting their reports, the assessor stays in touch with the clients until the place is certified asbestos-free. This gives way to more seamless coordination and increases the likelihood that the recommendations will be carried out.
Asbestos assessors also keep their lines open, just in case their clients have questions during and after the procedure.
If you want to ensure that your workplace is completely safe, then working with an asbestos assessor is crucial.
For those who are interested in becoming an asbestos assessor, meanwhile, hopefully, this article has helped you appreciate the necessity of the job and how to prepare yourself for this career.