Asbestos Competent Person
Asbestos Safety Quick Links
Asbestos Competent Person
A Competent Person must be designated for all worksites covered by 29 CFR 1926.1101, and in addition to having the qualifications and authority required by 29 CFR 1926.32(f), must be capable of identifying existing asbestos hazards in the workplace, selecting the appropriate control strategy for asbestos exposure, and have the authority to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.
In reference to asbestos projects, additional duties and training for the Competent Person include:
- Asbestos supervisor level training for Class I and II asbestos work, or Operations and Maintenance level training for Class III and IV asbestos work.
- Note: Training required for Class I and II Competent Persons also satisfies the requirements for Class III and IV.
- Making frequent and regular inspections of the job site, materials, and equipment being used.
- For Class I jobs - at least once during each work shift and at any time an employee requests.
- For Class II and III jobs - made frequently enough to assess whether conditions have changed, or at a reasonable time an employee requests.
- Performing or supervising the following activities:
- Setting up the regulated area, enclosure, glove bag, or other containment;
- Ensuring (by onsite inspection) the integrity of the enclosure or containment;
- Setting up procedures to control entry to and exit from the enclosure and/or area;
- Supervising all employee exposure monitoring;
- Ensuring that employees working within the enclosure and/or using glove bags wear personal protective equipment,
- Ensuring through onsite supervision, that employees set up and remove engineering controls, use work practices, and personal protective equipment in compliance with all requirements;
- Ensuring that employees use the hygiene facilities and observe the decontamination procedures;
- Ensuring through onsite inspection that engineering controls are functioning properly and employers are using proper work practices; and
- Ensuring that notification requirements are met.
The Competent Person must make an initial exposure assessment of the job before or at the initiation of all covered operations to determine expected exposures. This is not the same as initial exposure monitoring. This assessment will identify jobs likely to exceed the PEL in time for employers to install and implement the extra controls required to reduce exposures. It includes determining if employee exposure monitoring is feasible, and any observations, information, and calculations to indicate employee exposure to asbestos. For Class I jobs, exposures are assumed to exceed the PEL unless and until the employer is able to make a "negative exposure assessment."
Negative Exposure Assessment
A "Negative Exposure Assessment" (NEA) is a demonstration by the employer that employee exposure during an operation is expected to be consistently below the PEL. Determination is job-specific, and it applies only to jobs performed by asbestos-trained employees. An employer can demonstrate that exposure will be below the PEL by providing supporting data (i.e. objective data, prior exposure monitoring results, or results of initial exposure monitoring of the current job) in accordance with the acceptance criteria as outlined in 29 CFR 1926.1101(f)(2)(iii).
If a "negative exposure assessment" has not been made, daily monitoring is required for Class I and II operations. For Class I work, if all employees are equipped with supplied-air respirators operated in positive pressure mode, and only control methods listed by OSHA are used, daily monitoring is not required. For Class II work, daily monitoring may be dismissed if all employees are equipped with supplied-air respirators operated in positive pressure mode. All work other than Class I and II where exposures are expected to exceed a PEL must be monitored at intervals sufficient to document the validity of the exposure prediction.
Requirements for All Jobs
- Use vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters to collect asbestos-containing material debris and dust.
- Use wet methods or wetting agents during handling, mixing, removal, cutting, application, and clean-up unless it is infeasible or creates a greater hazard.
- Promptly clean up and dispose of asbestos-containing material waste in leak-tight containers.
- Never use high-speed abrasive disc saws that are not equipped with point of operation ventilations or enclosures with HEPA filtered exhaust.
- Never use compressed air to remove asbestos-containing material unless used in conjunction with an enclosed ventilation system to capture the dust cloud.
- Never dry sweep or shovel asbestos-containing material debris.
- Employee rotation to reduce employee exposure is not permitted.
For all work covered by the OSHA standard, one or more of the following controls must be used, as necessary, to achieve compliance with the PELs:
- Local exhaust ventilation equipped with HEPA filter dust collection system;
- Enclosure or isolation of processes producing asbestos dust;
- Ventilation of the regulated area to move contaminated air away from the worker's breathing zone to a filtration or collection device equipped with a HEPA filter; and/or
- Other work practices or engineering controls that OSHA deems feasible.
Note: Where the above controls are not sufficient to keep employee exposures below the PEL, appropriate respiratory protection must be used.
Robin McCall-Miller, Occupational Safety Program Manager