General information on topic

Asbestos as construction material

In Finland asbestos was used as construction material 1922 - 1992. Asbestos was particularly used between 1963 and 1979. Asbestos was used in construction for example in pipe insulation, injection insulation, cement rendering, fixing mortar, paint, glue, building boards, air-conditioning ducts, plastic membrane, joint mortar, ceramic tiles, vinyl tiles, refractory insulation, doors, especially fire doors, roof covering and external wall materials.

The attitude towards asbestos gradually grew more tense and consequently in 1977 the use of spray-applied asbestos was banned in Finland. Asbestos removal became subject to license 1988. The manufacturing and import of building material containing asbestos was banned from the beginning of 1993 and selling and use from the beginning of 1994.

Register of Asbestos Removal Licenses

Only private persons or entrepreneurs as well as legal persons such as limited companies, cooperatives and general governments with a license for handling asbestos may carry out asbestos removal.

In order to promote occupational safety and health and for proper erforcement The Regional State Administrative Agency for Western and Inner Finland as license authority holds a register for asbestos removal licenses.

Link to the Register of Asbestos Removal Licenses (Register in Finnish).

Asbestos survey

The builder or the one controlling and monitoring the construction project must ensure that an asbestos survey is drawn up before the asbestos removal. Any person or organisation initiating a construction project, or other actor that directs and supervises a construction project, or, where none of the above exist, the purchaser is obliged to ensure that this survey is made. In pratice all structures which are to be removed from buildings built before 1994 must be tested for the presence of asbestos-containing materials.

As part of the safety planning referred to in the Governments Decree on the Safety of Construction Work the client and the main contractor must, among other things, take into account dust controlling, dust reduction and prevention from spreading, procedures concerning industrial hygiene measurements, demolition work and scheduling and duration of the various work tasks and work stages and their coordination as the work progresses.

When completing repair project structures which will be removed or repaired be tested for the presence of asbestos-containing materials. This examination must be so systematic and reliable that it is possible to make adequate conclusions about the nature of the work conclude based on the examination.

Normally this examination is based on knowledge that asbestos-containing materials have been used. Should it not be possible to determine the findings of asbestos, the concentration of asbestos must be assessed based on a lab analysis. Should it based on the analysis not be possible to determine if the structures which shall be demolited, handled or removed contain asbestos, the demolition work must carried utilizing the enclosure method.

In the asbestos survey the asbestos in the structures must be localized and the nature and quantity of the asbestos must be determined. Localization means that the location of the asbestos must be determined and entered in the construction drawings and work specifications as unambigously as possible, for example in words and through photos.

When determining the nature of the asbestos the crocidolite must be separated other asbestos Moreover; in the asbestos survey the dustiness of the materials containing asbests when handled or removed must be determined. In the survey it must become clear how the concentration of asbestos has been identified.

The asbestos survey must be drawn up by a person well acquainted with asbestos, its occurrence and demolition of structures. This persons must also possess the professional competence required for drawing up this survey as to the nature and the extent of it. The surveyor may for example be a qualified building health expert.

The asbestos survey is documented. The asbestos survey must be given to the main constructor, the employer carrying out the asbestos demolition work or the self-employed worker in order for him to plan and carry out the work safely. In general this means that the builder includes the asbestos survey in the safety document for the design and preparation of the construction work referred to in the Government Decree on the Safety of Construction Work (205/2009).

This obligation also applies to the the employer exercising the main authority at a shared workplace referred to in section 49 in the OSH Act. Thus is ensured that the asbestos survey also is drawn up for asbestos demolition work on machinery and maintenance service on property, which is not actual construction work.

Written safety plan

The basis for the planning is the analysis and assessment of the risks at work referred to in section 10, subsection 1 in the OSH Act. The employer shall, taking the nature of the work and activities into account, systematically and adequately analyse and identify the hazards and risk factors caused by the work, the working hours, the working premises, other aspects of the working environment and the working conditions.

The asbestos survey drawn up by the builder or other directing and enforcing quarters provides basic information for the planning, on which the employer and the self-employed worker carrying out the asbestos demolition work will base their plans.

A separate written safety plan must be made for the asbestos demilition work.

The safety plan must contain the following information:

Exposure assessment

  • material which will be removed
  • asbestos abatement method (dustiness, machinery and devices)
  • follow up of the negative pressure

Marking off the exposure area and operating within the area

  • description of the work site (drawing or written survey)
  • warning signs
  • location of the prior notification on the construction site
  • exceptional working circumstances (for example temperature, scaffolding)

Choice of personal protective equipment

  • protection equipment to be used

Treatment of tools

  • maintenance of devices during the work (service hours, coarse-grain filters)
  • prevention of spread of asbestos when moving equipment  

Asbestos waste disposal

  • packing material
  • markings
  • stowage and transport of waste
  • final deposition of the asbestos waste

Ensuring the decontamination of the asbestos work area

  • person performing the measurement, the analysis
  • procedure of handing over after the demolition of asbestos (persons in charge)

Emergency actions

  • accident
  • technical fault

Follow up and updating the plan

  • person in charge
  • updates needed
  • processing the plan on the construction site 

The safety plan must be made known to all workers taking part in the asbestos removal.

On a shared construction site the safety plan must be made known to the main contractor. The main contractor shall presentthe plan to the builder.

The employer beginning the removal of asbestos on a shared workplace must ensure that the plan is made known to all operators within the sphere of influence of the demolition and their workers.

Managing and monitoring asbestos demolition

The employer must appoint a supervisor for each asbestos demolition work. The asbestos removal supervisor must continuously follow up and ensure that the asbestos demolition work is carried out in accordance with the safety plan. 

The asbestos removal supervisor must be authorised to make decisions required for a safe removal of the asbestos when needed.

The asbestos removal supervisor must have taken a relevant vocational degree or an applied part of one as must the other workers carrying out the asbestos removal.

Additional requirements for enclosure

The enclosure must be provided with negative pressure and a device for monitoring the negative pressure.

For monitoring the negative pressure a device documenting and alerting the construction site of hazardous changes of the pressure difference must be used.

The enclosure must be maintained at a negative pressure of at least 5 Pascal relative to the surrounding facilities.

When crocidolite is removed the negative pressure of the enclosure relative to the surrounding facilities must be at least 10 Pascal.

Measurments of asbestos exposure

The density of the respiratory protective equipment and the individual exposure of the workers must be monitored by measurements. Every worker must undergo a follow up measurement of the exposure at least once a year.

The follow up of the individual asbestos exposure of each worker must commence by means of measurements immediately when the worker for the first time starts the asbestos removal work.

The asbestos exposure of the worker must be followed up by means of measurements when there are changes effecting the exposure, for example after a renewal or repaira of the respiratory protective equipment.

When the measurements show that  the airborne asbestos fibre concentrations exceed the control limit of  0,01 fibres/cm³, the deficiencies causing the exposure must be rectified immediately and before the worker begins the demolition work. The protective effect of the measures must always be ensured by means of new measurements of exposure. The repairs and air monitoring must continue until the exposure is prevented.

A user company is obliged to ensure that the personal asbestos exposure of an agency worker is monitored in the same way as the exposure of the other workers carrying out asbestos removal work. Any employer carrying out asbestos removal work must ensure that the personal asbestos exposure of a hired worker under the employer´s direction is monitored.

The personal asbestos exposure of a worker inside the respiratory protective equipment must be measured in a room where the airborne asbestos concentration exceeds 0.01 fibres/cm³. These measurements may also be conducted in a room for maintenance service and decontamination of machines and devices generating dust when the airborne asbestos concentration in the room exceeds 0.01 fibres/cc.

The asbestos exposures of the workers and the airborne monitored through measurements, regardsless of the nature of the asbestos removal technique, for example wet sandblasting. A report based on the analysis of the measurements results must always be made. The report must also contain the results of measurements of the airborne concentration of fibres. This report must be kept and accessible for inspection for at least 2 years after the measurement is done.

Other materials than asbestos fibres can not be measured.

Monitoring measurements of air conditioning devices

The air condition units used for asbestos removal work must clean the used air and there may be no leaks.

The employer must monitor and measure the operational capacity of the air condition units used for asbestos removal work.

The purity of the exhaust air of a new air conditioner unit must be ensured through a measurement immediately on the first asbestos removal work site. 

When renting an air conditioner unit the employer must ensure that the measurement which is carried out to secure the operational capacity of the unit has been made or else he must agree on the details concerning the measurement with the person renting the unit.

The fibre concentration of the exhaust air may not exceed 0.01 fibres/cc. When the fibre concentration in the exhaust air exceeds 0.01 fibres/cc, the unit must be maintained/repaired and the protective effect of the repair must be ensured through measurements. Repairs and measurements must be carried out until the fibre concentration in the exhaust air no longer exceeds 0.01 fibres/cc.

For each measurement the air conditioner units must be specified with identifikation information. While measuring the airborne fiber concentration must lso be monitored. The measurements of each unit must be carried out in circumstances where the airborne fiber concentration passing through the unit exceeds 0.01 fibres/cc.

The results of the mesurements must be kept in the service information for the machine for at least 2 years.

Tools and equipment must be maintained and cleaned often enough underway Tand always before the transfer to a new asbestos work object. An air conditioner unit may not be moved directly from one asbestos work place to the next one. 

The operating hours of the air purifying unit must be monitored and the filters must be changed at least according to the instructions of the manufacturer, and more often when needed. Measurements, service, decontamination, change of filters and the operating hours must be documented in the service book for the air conditioner unit.

Securing the decontamination of the exposure area

Having completed the asbestos demolition using the enclsoure technique all surfaces in the room must be cleaned and the air in the enclosur must be purified. Having removed the asbestos and before removing the enclosure the air quality in the enclosure must be ensured through an aggressive measurement. There may be no broken or endless pipe insulations or asbestos material causing dust left in the room. The air and the surfaces in the room must be free of dust.

An aggressive air sample is collected after the air rinsing in a room with negative pressure.

When the analysis report of the air measurement indicates that the asbestos concentration in the room does not exceed 0.01 fibers/cc, the enclosure may be removed and the room may be handed over to the client.

Should the asbestos concentration exceed 0.01 fibers/cc, the room must be cleaned again and a new air mesurement must be carried out.

A document over the transition of the room must drawn up, the analysis report proving that the room is clen must be added to the document of transition. 

The person carrying out the measurement must have the professional competence required for collecting and evaluating the samples. If necessary, an external expert must be engaged for collecting the samples, analysing and evaluating them.

The client, the employer or the self-employed worker who has carried out the asbestos removal work must together enter data information which has an impact on the safety of those using the room, for example information about asbestos left. This information must also be given to the main contractor and other persons on the work place. The builder must enter information on any asbestos material left in the structures in manuals and maintenance instructions for those using the room.

Builder means a person or organisation initiating a construction project, or other actor that directs and supervises a construction project, or, where none of the above exist, the purchaser.