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Asbestos Exposure Control Plan

A very important major component of the Asbestos Safety Program is the written Asbestos Exposure Control Plan. This module will discuss some of the strategies in controlling exposure to airborne asbestos.

Health Effects of Asbestos
Hierarchy of Controls
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The Hierarchy of Controls

Controlling exposure to asbestos at work follows the same “Hierarchy of Controls” strategy that is common in all industries. Typically, a combination of these controls may be required in order to adequately manage and control worker exposure to asbestos.

If employees are exposed to asbestos above the PEL or EL, employers should protect those employees by using one or more of the following hierarchy of exposure controls:

Hazard controls: The first three controls focus on eliminating or reducing the asbestos hazard, itself:

  1. eliminate the asbestos
  2. substitute the asbestos
  3. engineer design features in equipment

Exposure controls: The next three control strategies do not do anything to the hazard, but they do influence behavior to eliminate or reduce exposure to the hazard:

  1. Use warnings
  2. develop administrative and work-practice controls
  3. provide respiratory protection and personal protective equipment

Elimination and Substitution

Use or replace materials containing asbestos with non-asbestos-containing material. For instance:

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  • Construct buildings that are completely asbestos-free.
  • Replace old insulation with new non-asbestos-containing materials.

Engineering Controls

Equipment design such as isolation through enclosure, encapsulating, or using wet methods.

  • Encapsulation by applying a thick, paint-like substance on material containing asbestos. Once, encapsulated, the asbestos fibers cannot become airborne.
  • Enclosure by placing an airtight barrier around the asbestos.


Regulated areas are demarcated using warning signs.

Health Effects of Asbestos
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Health Effects of Asbestos
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Demarcation: A demarcation fixes a boundary or limits of something. The regulated area should be demarcated in any manner that minimizes the number of persons within the area and protects persons outside the area from exposure to airborne asbestos. Where critical barriers or negative pressure enclosures are used, they may demarcate the regulated area.

Warning Signs: Provide warning signs like that shown in the image to the right and display them at each regulated area. Here are some points to remember with warning signs:

  • Post warning signs at all approaches to regulated areas so an employee may read the signs and take necessary protective steps before entering the area.
  • If the use of respirators and protective clothing is required in the regulated, the warning signs should include the phrase: “WEAR RESPIRATORY PROTECTION AND PROTECTIVE CLOTHING IN THIS AREA.”
  • Ensure employees working in and contiguous to regulated areas comprehend the warning signs. Means to ensure employee comprehension may include the use of foreign languages, pictographs, and graphics.

Access: Access to regulated areas is limited to authorized persons and to persons authorized by OSHA standards.

Respirators: Supply all persons entering a regulated area where employees are required to wear respirators with a respirator selected in accordance with OSHA standards.

Prohibited activities: The employer should ensure employees do not eat, drink, smoke, chew tobacco or gum, or apply cosmetics in the regulated area.

Qualified Persons: The employer should have a qualified person supervise all asbestos work performed within regulated areas.

Administrative Controls

Administrative controls do not reduce or eliminate the hazard. Rather, they attempt to control behaviors with safety programs, training, policies, procedures, and rules. Administrative controls include:

  • programs for training, accountability, incident investigation, etc.
  • policies for supervision of employees working in regulated areas such as a “no smoking” policy
  • procedures for removing, handling, and storing asbestos containing materials
  • mandatory safety rules to ensure employees are not exposed to airborne asbestos

Work Classifications

Different Classes of Asbestos Work
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Asbestos Removal - Residential
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All Class I, II and III asbestos work below should be conducted within regulated areas. Perform all other operations within a regulated area if airborne concentrations of asbestos exceed, or there is a reasonable possibility they may exceed a PEL.

Class I work is the most hazardous class of asbestos jobs because it releases asbestos fibers into the air. This work involves the removal, encapsulation, or enclosure of asbestos-containing material (ACM) or presumed asbestos-containing material (PACM).

Class 1 work usually involves removal of thermal insulation. Thermal insulation includes asbestos-containing materials applied to pipes, boilers, tanks, ducts, or other structural components to prevent heat loss or gain. Surfacing materials may include decorative plaster on ceilings, acoustical materials on decking, or fireproofing on structural members.

Employees performing work in a Class 1 regulated area should wear suits and respirators. A decontamination area should be at the containment site. Consider all waste materials as hazardous asbestos waste and carefully dispose of it.

Class II asbestos work includes the removal of ACMs other than thermal insulation, such as flooring and roofing materials. Removing intact incidental roofing materials such as cements, mastics, coatings, and flashings is not regulated as Class II. Examples of Class II work include removal of floor or ceiling tiles, siding, roofing, or transite panels.

When a designated competent person deems roofing material being removed as intact, the roofing contractor may make a negative exposure assessment and avoid initial monitoring if it meets the following conditions:

  1. Employees have been trained.
  2. The work practices described in the rule are strictly followed.

Class III asbestos work includes repair and maintenance operations where ACM or PACM are disturbed. The primary purpose of the work is not to remove or disturb asbestos, although some removal or disturbance may occur.

Examples of Class III work include repairing broken pipes that have asbestos wrapping, installing floor anchors in an area with asbestos floor tile, or installing electrical conduit through walls with asbestos insulation.

Class IV operations include maintenance and custodial activities in which employees contact but do not disturb ACM. These activities must be related to the construction project or to Class I, II, or III activities. Custodial work that is not related to a construction project or Class I, II, or III work is covered by the asbestos general industry standard.

OSHA standards cover more specific requirements for regulated areas in general industry, construction, and shipyard operations. Be sure to reference OSHA standards for these requirements.

Safe Work Practices

danger asbestos
Worker using a wet method to reduce exposure to dust.

The use of safe work practices is another category of administrative controls to make sure employees are not exposed airborne asbestos fibers. Below is a list of safe work practices:

  • Use wet methods to handle, mix, apply, remove, cut or score asbestos containing material;
  • Never remove materials containing asbestos from bags, cartons, or other containers in which they are shipped, without being either wetted, or enclosed, or ventilated.
  • Never use compressed air to remove asbestos or materials containing asbestos, unless you are using the compressed air in conjunction with a ventilation system, which effectively captures the dust cloud created by the compressed air.
  • Never sand asbestos-containing material.
  • Properly remove contaminated clothing and shower only in approved change rooms.
  • Store contaminated clothing only in closed, impermeable and properly labeled bags or containers to prevent dispersion of asbestos.
  • Clean contaminated clothing in a manner that prevents exposure to asbestos to employees and others.
  • Never smoke in areas where it is possible to be exposed to airborne asbestos.

Respiratory Protection and Protective Equipment

Respiratory Protection: The employer should implement a respiratory protection program. Under this program, the employer should do the following:

  • Select, and provide to employees, the appropriate respirators. See the table below (1910.1001 & 1926.1101)
  • Airborne Concentration or Condition of Use Required Respirator
    < or =  1 f/cm3 (fibers per cubic centimeter) (10 X PEL) Half-mask air-purifying respirator other than a disposable respirator, equipped with high-efficiency filters*.
    < or =  5 f/cm3 (50 X PEL) Full-facepiece air-purifying respirator equipped with high-efficiency filters*.
    < or =  10 f/cm3 (100 X PEL) Any powered air-purifying respirator equipped with high-efficiency filters* or any supplied-air respirator operated in continuous-flow mode.
    < or =  100 f/cm3 (1,000 X PEL) Full-facepiece supplied air respirator operated in pressure-demand mode.
    > 100 f/cm3 (1,000 X PEL), or unknown concentrations Full-facepiece supplied-air respirator operated in pressure-demand mode, equipped with an auxiliary positive-pressure self-contained breathing apparatus.

    * A high-efficiency filter means a filter that is at least 99.97% efficient against mono-dispersed particles of 0.3 µm (micrometers) in diameter or higher.

    • Employers should not select or use filtering face piece respirators for protection against asbestos fibers.
    • Provide High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters for powered and non-powered air-purifying respirators.
    • Provide an employee with a tight-fitting, powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) instead of a negative pressure respirator when the employee chooses to use a PAPR and it provides adequate protection to the employee.
  • Make sure employees are not assigned to tasks requiring the use of respirators if, based on their most recent medical examination, the examining physician determines that:
    • the employee will be unable to function normally using a respirator, or
    • the safety or health of the employee or other employees will be impaired by the use of a respirator.
  • Assign employees to another job or given the opportunity to transfer to a different position not requiring the use of respirators if they cannot wear a respirator.

Protective Equipment: The employer should provide personal protective equipment including coveralls, gloves, head and foot covering, face shields, and vented goggles.

Prohibited Activities

Do not use the following work practices and engineering controls for work related to asbestos or for work that disturbs ACM or PACM, regardless of measured levels of asbestos exposure or the results of initial exposure assessments:

  • high-speed abrasive disc saws that are not equipped with point of cut ventilator or enclosures with HEPA filtered exhaust air
  • compressed air used to remove asbestos, or materials containing asbestos, unless using the compressed air in conjunction with an enclosed ventilation system designed to capture the dust cloud created by the compressed air
  • dry sweeping, shoveling or other dry cleanup of dust and debris containing ACM and PACM
  • rotating employees as a means of reducing employee exposure to asbestos
  • vacuuming with non-HEPA filtered equipment or emptying vacuum equipment in a manner that allows reentry of asbestos into the workplace
  • sanding of asbestos-containing flooring/deck material

For more information on general respiratory protection requirements, see OSHAcademy Course 756, Respiratory Protection.


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. Given the control strategies listed below, which control strategy should be the employer's highest priority?

2. Which of the following is the term to describe applying a thick, paint-like substance on material containing asbestos?

3. Working in which of the following work classes is the most hazardous because asbestos fibers will be released into the air?

4. Wet methods to handle, mix, apply, remove, cut or score asbestos-containing-material is an example of using _____.

5. Which of the following is a prohibited work practice unless it is used in conjunction with an enclosed ventilation system?

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.