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Why Experience Matters in Asbestos Abatement Projects

Asbestos-containing thermal system insulation (TSI) labelled following an asbestos containing materials (ACM) inspection by an inspector

Here at CTL Engineering, the first question we get from clients is, “How soon can you get it done?”

We understand why.

The unexpected discovery of asbestos slams the brakes on renovation or demolition projects. Within hours, managers are facing immense pressure to limit delays and costs, keep people safe, avoid litigation, and get back to work as soon as possible.

The primary challenge in managing asbestos abatement projects is balancing quality and time. If you rush an asbestos abatement, you may save money in the short run while exposing yourself to liability. If the abatement takes too long, the project could die on the vine, creating substantial costs and litigation risks.

Thus, it takes an experienced asbestos-abatement team to make the nuanced decisions required to strike the time-vs.-quality balance. Here are a few more reasons why experience is so crucial in asbestos abatement:

Asbestos hazards are nothing to take lightly

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fiber that’s resilient and fire-resistant. It’s common in many buildings constructed before the mid-1970s.

If somebody breathes asbestos fibers into their lungs, the fibers stay there and over time, a buildup of asbestos fibers can damage the lungs and cause lung cancer. Just one cancer caused by asbestos — malignant mesothelioma — has killed more than 45,000 people between 1999 and 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC also found that “20% of air samples collected in the construction industry in 2003 for compliance purposes exceeded the OSHA permissible exposure limit [for asbestos],” National Public Radio reported.

OSHA penalties can prove severe

The late-night advertisements hoping to lure mesothelioma victims are but one manifestation of potential asbestos liability. Asbestos risks are so well known that ignoring or downplaying them is close to the definition of negligence.

The risks of getting hauled into court over an asbestos claim persist. For example, asbestos-related payouts jumped 9% to $3.2 billion in 2016, according to A.M. Best, the credit-ratings company specializing in the insurance business. A.M. Best reported that payouts for asbestos and environmental claims totaled $17.6 billion in the five years ending in 2016.

Lawsuits aren’t the only risk — at least one person faced jail time in a recent asbestos case. In February 2018, a federal judge sentenced an Illinois man to more than three years in prison over improper removal of asbestos from a former factory near Springfield.

That case was a classic example of asbestos abatement gone badly wrong: Workers did not receive proper training and asbestos was stored in open containers, garbage bags, and cardboard boxes, according to the news reports.

Another asbestos case resulted in a judge ordering a construction company to pay more than $170,000 for medical exams for more than 450 people. That case involved a Puerto Rico cleanup where workers removed asbestos without following federal guidelines. An executive with the company conducting the cleanup was fined and placed on six months of probation.

Inexperienced teams may not have all the resources you need

Our asbestos hazard evaluation specialists and technicians are certified for services including:

  • Indoor air quality surveys of residential, commercial, and industrial buildings.
  • Abatement Project design and management plans.
  • On-site air monitoring and sample analysis.

Check out our full range of services related to asbestos hazard.

Communication skills are critical

Along with our technical acumen, we know how to communicate with people who may be exposed to asbestos. Consider this example: Asbestos shows up during a renovation project at a 200-unit apartment complex. Residents have to be told carefully in order to avoid a panic.

We ensure that workers and residents on the site understand the risks and stay up-to-date on the project’s progress. We also ensure contractors perform all work within the design specifications and regulatory standards.

In sum, we understand the gravity of asbestos abatement. It must be carefully organized and implemented with a combination of quality and brevity. It takes hundreds of these projects to learn how to find the correct mix. CTL has experienced in-house staff of qualified and certified personnel to design an abatement project and providing monitoring services during abatement to ensure that it is done right, thereby minimizing potential liability.

Make sure your asbestos-abatement contractor has the experience and knowhow to get that combination right.

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