Asbestos Awareness remains high on the agenda for roofing experts
Despite asbestos no longer being used in building materials, facility and property managers need to be aware of its history. CHRISTIAN WRIGHT explains. Although asbestos is not used in building materials today, asbestos products weren’t banned in Australia until 2003.
In the past, asbestos was commonly used for roofs, in particular, due to its fire resistant and durable nature. Since asbestos roofing can last for over three decades, many buildings that were originally constructed with asbestos roofing have the same roofs today. While asbestos isn’t dangerous unless airborne, property or facility managers should never try to touch or replace asbestos containing products on their own. Only asbestos roof specialists should handle asbestos containing materials because they can cause major health risks if not treated properly.
As your roof plays such an important sheltering role, and because it encompasses such as large area, any harmful materials released in the area will have a wide impact. If you think you may have asbestos in your roof, here are some things you need to know:
HOW DO EXPERTS IDENTIFY ASBESTOS?
Many property or facility managers won’t recognise asbestos roofing when they see it. If you think the materials that make up your roof could potentially contain asbestos, such as building materials from the 1980s or earlier, never attempt to touch or remove them.
ACR ROOFING CASE STUDY: ORORA, THOMASTOWN – VICTORIA
This asbestos replacement project presented ACR Roofing with one its biggest challenges. The large-scale packaging factory in Thomastown, which is owned by 360 Capital and tenanted by manufacturer Orora, required the removal of ageing asbestos from the saw-tooth roof, as well as numerous glass panels.
After efficiently removing the asbestos from the 7500-plus-square metre roof, the Melbourne roofing company laid an entirely new BlueScope Zincalume steel roof, complete with clear plastic skylights, which dramatically increased the light inside the factory. Added insulation was also installed to the roof space.
With major construction taking place below the entire roofline of the building during the project, ACR Roofing was faced with a restricted timeframe.
Despite weather conditions potentially limiting how much of the roof could be removed and replaced each day, the asbestos removal specialists completed the project within the agreed project timeline, satisfying the operations of tenant Orora. Manufacturing of food packaging, in particular baby formula sealed bags, made the project more sensitive than the usual warehouses ACR Roofing replaces.
However, at no stage was Orora required to shut down its operations, as a small section of the roof was isolated each day to ensure production was maintained below. Working seven days a week provided ACR Roofing with access over the sensitive equipment and an uninterrupted scope of works. According to ACR Roofing director Christian Wright, the building owner and tenant benefited from engaging a roofing contractor that takes over the entire site and project manages all works.
“Our staff remove and replace the asbestos, with no downtime. In a project of this size, at an operational site that had to remain watertight at the completion of each day, this was a major task and non-negotiable to the client,” Wright explains. “It is important to note that the ACR personnel who remove the asbestos also replace the roofing. The work method is continuous with a low likelihood of weather related problems and eliminates the risk that comes with hiring subcontractors.”
Given the fragile nature of both building materials, ACR Roofing ensured that all of the usual health and safety standards were implemented. Following the success of the project ACR Roofing is now the preferred roofing contractor for 360 Capital.
If you know the manufacturer, it is advisable to contact them to learn which materials make up your roof, but the only way to know for sure if a material contains asbestos is to call an asbestos roofing specialist.
The asbestos specialist will likely send a sample of the potential asbestos containing
materials to the National Association of Testing Authorities. This analytical laboratory will determine if the material contains asbestos. Common roofing materials that may contain asbestos include concrete, asphalt and gypsum.
If the material does contain asbestos, the specialist will assess whether the material should be removed or replaced. Until it is certain that a building does not contain asbestos, do not perform any renovations, demolitions or maintenance.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SUSPECT ASBESTOS?
How you should deal with asbestos depends on where you find the asbestos and what condition it is in. Most buildings aren’t affected by asbestos unless it becomes airborne. If the material is friable, the asbestos could quickly become airborne and cause health risks. Non-friable asbestos won’t pose a health risk unless the material is cut, sanded or sawn. If a roof is in a solid state, it may not need to be removed at all. Non-damaged asbestos material doesn’t pose a health hazard.
However, the materials will need to be monitored for signs of deterioration or damage. If a material containing asbestos is damaged, call for an asbestos removal in Melbourne immediately. Sometimes damaged asbestos materials may not need to be removed, with isolation or repair also considerations. For instance, an asbestos specialist can likely repair a small tear in the flashing or underlayment. However, repairing or isolating asbestos are only temporary solutions. Natural weathering and ageing will eventually cause damage to asbestos. If the asbestos roofing specialist determines that the roof poses too great a threat to those inhabiting a building, they will likely recommend an asbestos roof removal. Once the specialist removes the asbestos from your property, he or she should take an air sample to ensure the building doesn’t contain airborne asbestos. The roof can then be replaced with a modern version that doesn’t contain carcinogens.
TEN QUESTIONS BUILDING MANAGERS SHOULD ASK A ROOFING CONTRACTOR
With the decision to replace or repair a roof being such a significant investment, it is vital for management to ensure they engage the right roofing company. Here are 10 questions to ask a Melbourne roofing company, according to ACR Roofing:
1. Are you licensed and insured?
You need to ensure that anyone undertaking roofing at your property is licensed to perform the work and has all the appropriate insurances to finish the job safely and properly. If they aren’t willing to prove they are licensed and insured, then turn them away.
2. What sort of communication can you offer me?
A good roofing contractor will be happy to hand over a business card or a phone number that you can call whenever you
need to. Ideally, they should also supply the name and phone number of the project or company supervisor. WorkSafe, as well as neighbouring properties, must be notified of any asbestos removal of 10 square metres or more.
3. Will you completely remove my old roof or just put the replacement on top?
The easy option for any contractor is just to fi x the new roof to the old one. Obviously, this isn’t how a quality operator
will undertake a project. A quality operator will insist on completely removing the old roof to check for structural damage to the frame. It is not advisable to install a new roof over an asbestos roof as drilling into asbestos is forbidden.
4. Are you prepared to give me a detailed quote and honour it?
This goes without saying, but you should never trust anyone that is only prepared to give vague details as to how much the final cost will be. A good roofing contractor will have a depth of experience and be able to come up with a very accurate estimate and quote as to how much everything will cost.
5. What are your contingency plans?
It’s easy for a roofing contractor to finish a job in perfect conditions. But what if a freakrainstorm blows through? You need to be sure that your contractor has the know-how to deal with whatever challenge is thrown at them and be able to work in a way that will limit damage to your home. ACR Roofing removes and replaces sections of asbestos
roof at a time to eliminate the potential of damage due to inclement weather.
6. Do you have employees or do you subcontract?
A company that uses subcontractors isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you just have to keep in mind that you need to ask subcontractors the same questions as you asked the initial contractor. All of ACR Roofing’s personnel are full-time employees with many years’ experience with the team. The company’s plumbers are also asbestos removalists.
7. What post-job care can you offer me?
Any quality contractor will be confident enough in their skills to offer a comprehensive warranty on their work. An excellent contractor will provide you with post-care service including post-completion check-ups and an offer to provide minor repairs. Building owners are entitled to a six-year plumbing warranty; however, ACR Roofing issues an extra four years on top – guaranteeing the roof for 10 years.
8. Do you have a folio?
Contractors should have a sizeable folio demonstrating the quality projects they have completed in the past. It’s even better if they can pass on a sample of what past clients have said about their work.
9. What’s your ABN?
If the company doesn’t have an ABN it means they aren’t a registered company, so steer clear of them.
10. What products and suppliers do you use?
A contractor should have a list of quality suppliers with whom they have good relationships. These relationships will
allow your contractor to purchase the best products at reduced prices and pass these savings on to you.
A tip: always ask for Australian BlueScope products.