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Safe Work Practices

An operations and maintenance (O&M) program should focus on a special set of work practices for custodial, maintenance, and construction staff. This page describes the types of safe work practices and when they should be applied. Many of these activities are also covered under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations for asbestos at 29 CFR 1910.1001and 1926.1101.

When to Apply Special O&M Work Practices

The nature and extent of any special work practices for custodial, maintenance, and construction staff should reflect the likelihood that the asbestos-containing materials (ACM) will be disturbed and that fibers will be released. Maintenance activities can be divided into three categories with regard to their potential for disturbing ACM.

  1. Those which are unlikely to involve any direct disturbance of ACM; for example, cleaning shelves or counter tops with a damp cloth.
  2. Those which may cause accidental disturbance of ACM; for example, working on a fixture near a ceiling with surfacing ACM.
  3. Those which involve intentional small-scale manipulation or disturbance of ACM; for example, removing a small segment of thermal system insulation (TSI) ACM to repair a pipe leak.

Note that activities beyond maintenance activities (or small-scale short duration activities) should be performed only by specially trained and accredited asbestos professionals.

Summary of When to Apply Key O&M Work Practices
Likelihood of ACM Disturbance
 Contact UnlikelyAccidental Disturbance PossibleDisturbance Intended of Likely
Management Responsibilities
Need Pre-Work Approval from APMReview by Program ManagerYesYes
Special Scheduling or
Access Control
Supervision NeededNoInitial, at leastYes
HVAC System
NoneAs Needed*Shut Down*
Area ContainmentNoneDrop Cloths, Mini-enclosuresYes**
Personal Protection
Respiratory ProtectionAvailable for UseYesYes
Protective ClothingNoneReview by APMYes
Work Practices
Use of Wet MethodsNoAs NeededYes
Use of HEPA VacuumAvailable for UseAvailable for UseAs Needed

* In the area where work takes place
** Type of containment may vary (e.g., small-scale, short-duration tasks may not require full containment)


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