There can be no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive effect on everyone across the world including both individuals and businesses. However, it isn’t always appreciated that the pandemic has made it very difficult to carry out work that can be deemed essential.
Any work involving asbestos comes with risk and challenges. This is an accepted part of the job and it is why asbestos-related tasks should always be carried out by experts with experience in the industry.
But a task like asbestos removal – which is already a particularly tricky part of the job – is made even harder by COVID-19. Here we take a look at how the pandemic is having an impact on asbestos removal, and what you should do if you need to have asbestos professionally removed from your property.
Asbestos removal is already challenging
It is important to first state that asbestos is at its most dangerous when it is being disturbed or damaged – which is, naturally, a major risk when it comes to removing it. When asbestos or materials that contain asbestos are damaged, the asbestos fibres can get into their air, where they can be breathed into the lungs and cause long-term damage.
This is why utmost care must be taken when removing asbestos, and the work should always be carried out by people with extensive experience working with the material.
COVID-19 brings a number of difficulties
Clearly, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a number of conditions that make it harder to work generally – and this is true around asbestos as well. Fortunately, asbestos professionals do have experience managing and mitigating health hazards and risks, as well as in the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE), however, this is not the only problem.
Of course, many aspects of asbestos removal involve the planning as well as working together with other professionals. This can be harder with the need to socially distance while at work.
Proximity to others
It is important that all workers – asbestos or otherwise – socially distance in the workplace. If you are having to work closely with other asbestos professionals, it is often necessary to remove asbestos from confined spaces or areas that are difficult to ventilate. This would typically violate governmental safe working and physical distancing guidelines.
It is essential that asbestos professionals carry out thorough risk assessments taking into account the need for social distancing and other anti-COVID-19 measures.
The importance of hygiene
So much of the traditional risk around asbestos removal relates to the task itself, but COVID-19 adds a new dimension to the challenge. If proper precautions aren’t taken, the working environment could be safe from an asbestos perspective, but not from a hygiene perspective.
Crucially, PPE should never be shared, and should be thoroughly washed every time before it is re-used. Workers also need to be in the habit of regularly washing and sanitising their hands.
Do you need asbestos removal right now?
It is important to remember that just because asbestos is present in a property, it does not necessarily mean that it needs removing. Finding asbestos in a property can cause people to worry and assume that removal is the only option.
This isn’t the case. In fact, it is always best to first establish whether the material is indeed asbestos (as many materials look similar but are harmless), as well as understanding the current condition of the asbestos present. Asbestos that is in good condition and is unlikely to be disturbed typically does not need removing.
To understand this, you need to have an asbestos survey carried out. This survey will provide details on any asbestos present, and help you to understand whether removal is required in your case.
Working with professionals
It is highly recommended that you work with professionals when it comes to asbestos. And while the COVID-19 pandemic has made asbestos removals more challenging, it can still be carried out safely and effectively by an experienced team.