Oregon (OR) Asbestos Removal & Abatement Resources:

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality describes asbestos as "a mineral that can be broken down into very fine fibers that are heat-resistant and extremely durable" (2). These properties made asbestos an ideal mineral to be used in building materials, as it has the ability to create strong, fire resistance, insulating, materials (2).  These materials were produced and used widely until 1987, so many buildings that were built before this time still have asbestos-containing material (2). Unfortunately, since the 1980s, it has been determined that exposure to asbestos fibers has been linked to cancer and other diseases (3).  The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality warns that when asbestos containing material is damaged, such as in demolition or renovation projects, tiny asbestos fibers are released into the air (3).  Once these fibers are airborne, they can easily be inhaled into the lungs, as they are too small to be filtered by dust masks (3).  For this reason, The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality recommends hiring licensed asbestos abatement contractors to perform all asbestos related activities even in privately owned homes (3).  Fortunately, there are many qualified asbestos professionals who are certified in Oregon.

Asbestos Worker Training

In Oregon, it is required that all employers establish a training program for all employees who are to be exposed to airborne concentrations of asbestos, and all employees must complete the training program prior to engaging in any asbestos-related activities (1).  During the training, employers must ensure that each employee is informed of:

  • Health effects associated with asbestos exposure
  • The relationship between smoking and asbestos exposure in developing lung cancer
  • The quantity, location, manner of use, release, and storage of asbestos and the nature of operations that could result in asbestos exposure
  • Engineering controls and work practices
  • The Procedures implemented to protect employees
  • The purpose, proper use, and limitations of respirators and protective clothing
  • The purpose and description of the medical surveillance program
  • The contact information for health organizations that support those who are quitting smoking
  • The requirements for posting signs and affixing labels to asbestos waste

Even after the training is completed, all workers must take refresher courses annually to remain current on all new regulations and safety technology (1).  All of this training provides workers with the knowledge to keep themselves, the public, and the environment safe. Even though it is legal for Oregon homeowners whose residences contain fewer than four housing units to perform asbestos-related activities on their own homes, it does not reduce the health risks that asbestos exposure pose, and it is always recommended that they hire trained professionals (1).  In regulated buildings, such as public, commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings, all asbestos-related activity must be completed by trained professionals (1).

Abatement Safety Standards

To ensure that all asbestos-related activity is done as safely as possible, all asbestos workers must follow strict rules and regulations in regulated buildings.  Before any asbestos activity begins, warning signs must be posted at all approaches to the contained site that read "DANGER. ASBESTOS. CANCER AND LUNG DISEASE HAZARD. AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY," and where respirators are worn, there must also be signs that read "RESPIRATORS AND PROTECTIVE CLOTHING REQUIRED IN THIS AREA" (1). At no time are employees allowed to be exposed to an airborne concentration of asbestos that is greater than 0.1 fiber per cubic centimeter of air as an eight-hour time weighted average (1).  To achieve this, all workers follow standard engineering controls and work practices.  For each site, local exhaust ventilation and dust collection systems must be designed, constructed, installed, and maintained to clean the air of asbestos fibers (1).  All tools that could create the release of asbestos fibers must have exhaust ventilation systems as well (1).  In addition to this, all asbestos-containing materials must be thoroughly wetted and remain wet during all handling activities to prevent loose fibers from entering the air (1). To further prevent excess emissions, all surfaces must remain cleaned by using vacuums fitted with HEPA filters (1). The use of compressed air to remove asbestos and the sanding of floor tiles is prohibited (1).  Once asbestos-containing materials are removed, they must be placed in airtight, leak-proof containers that have warning labels affixed (1). In addition to these practices, the employer must provide a change room, a shower, and a lunchroom and ensure that no employee leaves the site without being decontaminated (1). These regulations are strict, but they are crucial to maintaining a safe environment.

Safety Equipment

Safely removing or handling asbestos requires specific protective equipment with which all trained asbestos workers must be provided (1).  Most importantly, employers must their employees with air-purifying respirators that are fitted with HEPA filters (1).  In addition to the respirators, workers must wear coveralls or similar clothing, gloves, head and foot coverings, face shields or vented goggles whenever it is appropriate (1).  The employer is responsible for replacing damaged equipment and safely laundering all clothing (1).

In order to keep themselves, the public and the environment safe from asbestos exposure, asbestos workers must follow strict regulations in all aspects of asbestos handling.  Fortunately, all asbestos workers in Oregon are trained to strictly follow all safety precautions.  If you are planning a renovation or demolition project, even on an unregulated facility, it is always recommended that you hire a professional to inspect your building and plan for any necessary abatement.  Fortunately, there are many asbestos workers who can meet all of your asbestos-related needs located within the state of Oregon.

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