Asbestos is considered to be friable when it can be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure. Examples of friable asbestos include sprayed-on insulation and loose asbestos fibers in insulation or other materials.
There are different ways to know if asbestos is friable or not:
- Having a professional asbestos tester test the asbestos: If the asbestos-containing material is in poor condition and can be easily crumbled or powdered by hand, it is likely to be friable.
- Testing: A professional may take a sample of the material and test it in a laboratory to determine if it is friable.
- Air monitoring: Asbestos fibers can be released into the air when friable asbestos is disturbed. A professional may use air monitoring equipment to detect the presence of asbestos fibers in the air and determine if the material is friable.
It’s important to remember that friable asbestos can release vast amounts of asbestos fibers into the air when disturbed and therefore, it poses a much greater health risk than non-friable asbestos.
For this reason, it is important to only have friable asbestos removed with all of the proper controls in place and with utmost care and only ever removed by trained and insured competent professionals.
Do you need a licence to remove friable asbestos?
In most countries, including New Zealand, a specialist license is required to remove asbestos. Did you know that due to its high risk that two very different types of asbestos license are issued by SafeWork?
One covers B class work non friable and an A Class license that covers the higher risk material of friable asbestos.
The process of removing asbestos requires specialized training as well as very specialised equipment which has to be calibrated and tested to ensure that asbestos fibers are not released into the air during the removal process.
In New Zealand, asbestos removal work is controlled by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) through the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
According to this regulations, anyone carrying out asbestos removal work must be licensed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). This includes asbestos removal contractors, as well as self-employed individuals.
Additionally, it is important to note that asbestos removal contractors must follow specific guidelines and procedures to ensure the safety of workers and the public during the removal process, and must also provide a clearance certificate after the work has been completed.
In summary, it is illegal to remove asbestos without a proper license and should only be done by trained and licensed professionals.