Everyone will turn his or her hand to DIY, at some point. Sometimes, it’s just quicker, cheaper, and easier to just do it yourself.
Most people who carry out DIY understand the need to take sensible precautions. They understand the need to look after their own well-being and the well-being of the people around them. It’s the people who don’t take these sensible precautions who end up having the accidents.
When it comes to asbestos, however, there is probably more to taking sensible precautions than you think. Especially when it comes to face masks (RPE).
If the DIY project that you’re planning to take on involves the potential disturbance of asbestos, you’re going to need the right RPE.
As a general rule, the only asbestos removal or disturbance project that you can even consider taking on, in your own home, involves products like asbestos cement, vinyl floor tiles and textured coating (i.e. Artex). This should only be carried out if you are fully aware of the precautions to take and procedures to follow. If you don’t know that your asbestos removal or disturbance project is definitely one of these products, you shouldn’t start the project until you’ve had it tested.
If you don’t know what the rest of this paragraph means, you’re better off getting in contact with us: G&L Consultancy Ltd 01823 443898.
Asbestos is dangerous if not handled correctly. If the asbestos removal or disturbance work you do releases fibres, there is the potential for harm. If these fibres are inhaled, there is the likelihood of harm. Wearing the right RPE protects you, but not the people around you.
The HSE has produced a task manual called Asbestos Essentials (HSG210). This is aimed at the trades that might be exposed to asbestos during the course of their work, like plumbers and electricians. But, if your DIY project is taking on the work of these trades-people, then you should have access to the same safety information they have. And, with Asbestos Essentials, you have.
You are able to download task sheets, direct from the HSE website. In these sheets are clear instructions of how to take the necessary sensible precautions to protect everyone’s wellbeing.
Which brings us back to RPE. Every task that involves asbestos, from drilling to painting, refers you to Equipment and Method Sheet 6: Personal Protective Equipment (including RPE). EM6, as it’s known, tells you the type of RPE you need for your asbestos removal project, and how to wear it. It also explains that masks needs to be ‘fit tested‘ to you, the user, before you start your project.
When choosing a mask to protect you from asbestos, there are a couple of things you need to make sure of. The first is that the mask or filter must be a P3; this means a higher protection against dust and solid aerosols. The second is the mask should have an APF (Assigned Protection Factor) of 20.
This means that the mask will reduce the concentration of the asbestos fibres inside the mask to at least one twentieth of what’s outside the mask. That’s the APF. But that sounds like the sort of thing you’d want to be sure of, especially if you’re not used to working with asbestos.
And that’s where we can help. We offer a mask face fit testing service to ensure that the protection that the mask actually provides is at least as much as its assigned protection factor. This fit test is a legal requirement for any trades person working with asbestos. If the Government insists on that level of protection for the professionals, it makes sense that DIYers should take the same level of precautions. Asbestos can cause terrible diseases when it’s inhaled, a fit test can help ensure this never happens.
For further information please contact: G&L Consultancy Ltd on 01823 443898, or by using our online contact forms.