Asbestos can be a scary mineral if you are not careful. Trying to remove it can expose you to the asbestos fibers and contaminate the entire room you inhabit. Even worse, it can contaminate your neighborhood and expose everyone including yourself. To ensure this doesn’t happen, the Occupation Safety and Health Administration classified who is qualified to abate (remove) asbestos and measures to ensure that the worker is safe from Asbestos exposure. The only problem is it can be costly to have over qualified individuals maintaining asbestos when a simple training will suffice, and the limitation of manpower. OSHA created the 4 classes of Asbestos Workers. Each have their abilities and responsibilities. Below is a breakdown of each class description, requirements, responsibility, and duties.
Class I Asbestos Work
Class I work is considered the most hazardous class of asbestos jobs. This work consists the removal of thermal system insulation, or TSI and sprayed-on or troweled-on surfacing materials. The key note is the materials are known or suspected Asbestos Containing Material, or ACM. These types of asbestos materials are the most likely to be or to become friable. TSI and Surfacing materials that contain ACM are commonly found on the following:
- Decorative Plaster on Ceilings
- Decorative Plaster on Walls
- Acoustical Material on Decking
- Acoustical Material on Walls
- Acoustical Material on Ceilings
- Fireproofing on structural members
This includes asbestos work on thermal insulation ACM found on pipes, boilers, tanks, ducts, or other structural component to prevent heat loss or gain. The surfacing ACM include decorative plaster on ceilings and walls; acoustical materials on decking, walls, and ceilings; and fireproofing on structural members.
Education: In order to qualify to perform Class I Asbestos Work you need 32 hours of Asbestos Workers education. If you wish to supervise the Class I work then you need 40 hours of education.
Class II Asbestos Work
Class II work is similar to Class I with the exception that it involves less dangerous abatement. Class II Asbestos work is the removal of Miscellaneous materials. OSHA classifies Miscellaneous ACM as everything else that isnt surfacing material or Thermal System Isolation. Miscellaneous ACM is usually known to be Non-Friable that is assuming the material is in good condition. Common Miscellaneous Asbestos Containing Materials that are removed are as followed:
- Floor Tiles
- Ceiling Tiles
- Roofing Shingles
- Transite Panels
- Transite Pipes
Similar to Class I Work, workers are required to have 32 hours of Asbestos Training. Supervisors are required to have 40 hours of Asbestos training.
Class III Asbestos Work
Class III work is the repair and maintenance of any asbestos containing material. Unlike Class I and II, Class III work consists of a long term plan with asbestos versus removing it outright. It can involve TSI, Surfacing Material, and Miscellaneous ACM. As asbestos may be disturbed during maintenance, it is still important to treat Class III with precaution.
Education requirement for operation and maintenance is 16 hours of asbestos training. The designated program is known as O&M Asbestos training.
Class IV Work is considered the least hazardous of the classes. Class IV Asbestos work consists of janitorial work where no ACM is disturbed. As Asbestos should be kept undamaged, this type of work does not require extensive training or regulation. The main concern is accidental damage. In that case, it is the responsibility of the Class IV Asbestos worker to respond immediately as according to the management plan. This usually means the Class IV worker will seek professionals as accredited by OSHA to control the asbestos and ensure low levels of asbestos exposure.
The education requirements consists of a 2 hour Asbestos Awareness program. It is important for the custodian to be able to identify where the known ACM is located.
OSHA classified these four classes to ensure that employees working with asbestos are prepared for the hazard. It is to ensure that qualified individuals are working on a site with minimal risks. The first two classes are for the removal of asbestos. The third class is for the long term removal or maintenance of asbestos in a building, while the fourth is simply working around it.