SafeWork SA recently issued a safety alert following an incident in which a painting contractor used a high-pressure water cleaner on a residential asbestos cement roof to prepare it for painting.
The high-pressure water delaminated the asbestos roof sheet surface, and a slurry contaminated with asbestos fibres washed out of the downpipes onto a driveway and neighbouring property.
SafeWork SA reminded painting professionals and other contractors that high-pressure water cleaning of asbestos cement material is prohibited, and an initial SafeWork SA investigation found:
The safety alert subsequently made a number of recommendations for high-pressure water and asbestos:
Using high-pressure water cleaners on asbestos cement breaks down the surface of the material, and spreads asbestos-containing residue over a wide area, including neighbouring properties.
The alert also recommended a number of control measures:
Do not use high-pressure water cleaners on asbestos cement material.
“It is hard to believe that the painting contractor was unaware that the roof may have been asbestos material considering the amount of published information and educational campaigns over many years,” said SafeWork SA acting executive director Glenn Farrell.
“Cleaning up properties contaminated by asbestos residue from high-pressure water cleaning is a very expensive process and creates further exposure risks.”
PO Box 2078, Gladstone Park,