This alert warns of the dangers of wearing unsuitable disposable coveralls for asbestos removal work.
Published:01 August 2010
WorkSafe Victoria has found some licensed asbestos removalists wearing unsuitable disposable coveralls during asbestos removal. These coveralls are often made from single layer, lightweight polypropylene that may allow fine dust to penetrate the coveralls and tend to tear easily.
These inferior coveralls are usually supplied with little or no information to enable an employer to determine if they are suitable for asbestos removal. In some cases the coveralls have been advertised as suitable for asbestos use without test reports being available to confirm this.
Dust containing asbestos fibres may penetrate the coveralls and settle on clothing or skin underneath — presenting an increased risk of inhalation of these fibres.
Inhaling asbestos fibres is a serious health risk and can lead to diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.
Use disposable coveralls that are designed and manufactured to a suitable standard to prevent penetration of asbestos fibres. Disposable coveralls rated Type 5, category III, in accordance with European standard EN ISO 13982–1, or that meet an equivalent standard are suitable for use during asbestos removal.
Note: EN ISO 13982–1: Protective clothing for use against solid particulates — Part 1: Performance requirements for chemical protective clothing providing protection to the full body against airborne solid particulates (type 5 clothing).
The European Union designates categories of personal protective equipment (PPE). Chemical protective equipment must be "CE" certified as Category III PPE. There are 6 levels of protection ("Types") under Category III. To meet the standard and carry the CE marking, Category III PPE must pass the relevant "Type" tests, and meet or exceed the minimum requirements for the physical and chemical properties.
Type 5 asbestos coveralls may also have a Type 6 label, meaning protection against light liquid splashes (under EN ISO 13034).
Figures 1 and 2 show labels that should be included on the packaging for suitable asbestos coveralls.
Figure 1: Type 5 - Protection against solid airborne particulates
Figure 2: CE marking
To ensure that coveralls are worn properly:
they should be one size too big as this will help prevent ripping at the seams
loose cuffs should be sealed with appropriate adhesive tape
coverall legs should be worn over footwear, not tucked in, as this lets dust in
the hood should be worn over the respirator straps
Refer to WorkSafe Victoria Compliance Code - Removing asbestos in workplaces for more information.
Importers and suppliers
Importers and suppliers of disposable coveralls must ensure they provide sufficient and accurate information with their coveralls to comply with their duty to provide information under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.
Employers using disposable coveralls during asbestos removal must ensure the coveralls are suitable for removal work. Type 5 coveralls or equivalent for this purpose, will meet the required standard.
If the coveralls or their packaging are not labelled as suitable for asbestos removal work, employers need to obtain information from the supplier to check their suitability.
WorkSafe Victoria is carrying out workplace inspections to ensure suitable disposable coveralls are in use.
Employers must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.
When identifying hazards and risks and when planning to introduce risk control measures, employers must consult with employees, independent contractors and employees of independent contractors at the workplace.
A person who manages or controls a workplace must, so far as is reasonably practicable, eliminate the exposure of persons at the workplace to airborne asbestos fibres. If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate that exposure, they must reduce that exposure so far as is reasonably practicable.