The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) asbestos rule (29 CFR 1926.1101) became effective July 10, 1995. The rule requires building owners to implement notification, training and record keeping procedures for all buildings constructed prior to 1981. The definition of “Building Owner” includes any legal entity, including a lessee, which exercises control over the management and record keeping functions of a building. OSHA refers to building owners as “statutory employers” with an obligation to take appropriate action to protect employees other than their own. Therefore, entities which are not the direct employers of the employees potentially exposed to asbestos are subject to compliance. All apartments, offices, retail centers, and other commercial/industrial buildings are covered by the rule.
PRESUMPTION OF ASBESTOS
Properties built prior to 1981 are presumed by OSHA to have asbestos-containing materials (“ACM”). These presumed asbestos-containing materials are known as “PACM”. OSHA requires each employer to determine whether its workplace contains PACM. If no PACM is present at the workplace, no further action is required by OSHA. If materials meeting the definition of “PACM” are identified, the only way to rebut the presumption that there is ACM is to retain a qualified expert maintaining the appropriate certifications to obtain samples for testing for asbestos content. According to OSHA, building records may not be relied upon to rebut the presumption.
Building owners must notify potentially affected employees and other building employers (including any tenants) of the presence and location of ACM or PACM. When PACM is present which has not been tested to determine if it is actually ACM, this notification must refer to the material as “ACM”. The word “presumption” may not be used.
All contractors involved in, or bidding on, work in areas with ACM/PACM must be notified by the building owner or tenant of the presence and location of ACM/PACM. Contractor notification requirements apply to housekeeping contractors and trade contractors (e.g., plumbing, electrical, HVAC) as well as all other maintenance and repair companies.
SIGNS & WARNINGS
Signs must be posted at the entrance to mechanical and boiler rooms that identify the ACM/PACM location and work practices to be followed. Warning labels must be affixed to those areas containing ACM/PACM where maintenance personnel or contractors are likely to work.
OPERATION & MAINTENANCE
Special maintenance and custodial procedures for ACM/PACM must be implemented via the preparation of an Operations & Maintenance (O&M) Plan. For example, vinyl floor tiles may only be stripped under specific conditions using certain equipment. Damaged ACM must be repaired using prescribed methods.
Employees performing repair, maintenance or custodial work in areas with ACM/PACM must receive an annual training course in accordance with EPA’s prescribed training. Annual training includes health effects of asbestos, location of ACM/PACM in the building, recognition of material damage and deterioration, housekeeping procedures, and proper response to fiber release. The employer must maintain all employee training records for one year beyond the last date of employment by that employer.
The building owner, manager, or lessee must maintain records relating to ACM/PACM identification, testing, notification and abatement for the duration of its ownership or management of the building.
SALE TRANSFER LEASE
Building owners must provide purchasers, successive owners, or lessees (other than occupiers of dwelling units) with all ACM/PACM documentation and records.
AESI CAN HELP
AESI has performed certified asbestos hazard surveys in compliance with the above rule at over 200 locations within 30 states. At each location, AESI provided specific recommendations for further action which either resulted in full scale abatement activities or the preparation and implementation of Operations & Maintenance (O&M) Plans, or both.