Statement from HSE regarding PPE and the asbestos industry at the current time
The Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA) has reported that the HSE has received a number of queries concerning the purchase and use of Type 5 coveralls. It has issued a statement as a reminder of existing guidance and advice.
Purchase of coveralls
When buying Type 5 coveralls, especially from new sources of supply, you should check they are CE marked and provided with a Declaration of Conformity with accompanying instructions in English. The relevant standard for Type 5 Cat III coveralls is BS EN ISO 13982-1:2004+A1:2010, which will be specified on the Declaration of Conformity.
As well as meeting the BS EN ISO 13982-1:2004+A1:2010 standard, Type 5 coveralls must meet the requirements set out in Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 L143 ACOP para 346. Any change to routine practice when it comes to colours worn inside an asbestos enclosure will need to be documented in standard operating procedures, plans of work, explained to operatives and supervised.
Re-use of disposable coveralls
Coveralls can be used several times in an asbestos removal environment provided they are kept within the contaminated area. A disposable coverall can be re-used, but only if it remains adequate and suitable, is not damaged and continues to provide the intended protection, and workers can put it back on without being exposed to risk. The “disposable” term applies to the end of a period of reasonable use e.g. a working day or shift or possibly longer in some cases. This will depend on specific circumstances of use.
The unnecessary use of coveralls in transiting can be avoided if the enclosure is directly attached to the Decontamination Unit (DCU). Type 5 Cat III coveralls made from a higher density polypropylene will be stronger than lighter weight Type 5 Cat III coveralls which may be more susceptible to wear and tear.
You may also consider the following alternatives to using disposable coveralls:
Individual pieces of disposable clothing
There may be individual items of Type 5 Cat III disposable clothing that would meet the requirements of Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 ACOP (para 346) such as trousers, tops and headgear.
Re-usable coveralls eg Type 3 liquid tight
There may be some circumstances, where Type 3 liquid tight coveralls could be worn, decontaminated and re-used. The risks would need to be considered on a job specific basis and must include consideration of increased thermal strain (due to the impermeably of the material and which may reduce wear time) in addition to arrangements for decontamination and storage.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 ACOP (para 346), makes provision for the use of non-disposable overalls and sets out criteria which must be met for them to be deemed suitable. HSE research found that the laundering of asbestos contaminated coveralls was effective. Laundering coveralls would need planning and the correct facilities. Cotton overalls would need to be cleaned in suitable dedicated laundering facilities with arrangements for water and air discharge.
Coveralls used during asbestos work should be treated as contaminated and be either disposed of as asbestos waste or bagged-up for washing at a laundry which has the facilities and expertise to launder asbestos contaminated items.
As this is work with asbestos, companies wishing to set up a commercial laundering service or make their own arrangements will need to comply with requirements of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 including preparing a Plan of Work.
Laundry operators should assess the potential risks from laundering asbestos contaminated clothing (both before and after laundering). In order to prevent exposure and spread of asbestos they should, as a minimum, arrange to:
- Provide a clearly defined, lockable room(s) containing the washing and drying machines dedicated to dealing with asbestos contaminated laundry only;
- Limit access to these facilities to a minimum number of trained and equipped personnel;
- Provide good mechanical air extraction (negative pressure with HEPA filtration) in the room(s);
- Equip employees loading the washing machine(s) with appropriate RPE;
- Operate high standards of hygiene;
- Use separate wash cycles for heavily and lightly contaminated items;
- Filter waste water and subsequently treat the filter(s) as contaminated asbestos waste;
- Discharge air from tumble drier(s) to the external atmosphere;
- Conduct regular air monitoring and record the results.
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