Anne Roberts and Elizabeth O’Brien, The LEAD Group Inc.
The LEAD Group urges householders to have ceiling dust removed before insulation is installed. This is typically going to be the only way that insulation installers will be forced to comply with state OH&S regulations in regard to protecting themselves from the hazards of ceiling dust.. A good risk management plan for insulators includes safe removal of ceiling dust prior to insulation installation. We also recommend that the removal of ceiling dust be done in accordance with guidelines set out by WorkCover NSW (see below). Dust removal should be carried out by a trained, competent dust removal contractor, using correct equipment.
The only such group of contractors in Australia are the members of The Australian Dust Removalists Association, (ADRA) - see www.adra.com.au
Only NSW WorkCover, out of all the Australian States (in Victoria, the authority is called “WorkSafe”, in South Australia it is called “Safe Work”) has written a fact sheet on ceiling dust containing lead. NSW WorkCover and Queensland Workplace Health and Safety have a fact sheet on the hazards of insulation installation, among them lead and ceiling dust. All state and territory Occupational Health and Safety regulations require that the employer identify hazards prior to work beginning, and that they have a Hazard Management Plan to ensure safe work conditions for their employees.
The NSW fact sheet on a code of practice for the Control of Hazardous Substances states that:
“Contractors and workers involved in the cleaning, repairing, or demolition of ceilings should be aware of the information contained within this guidance note.”
Ceiling dust removal prior to insulation installation (as much to protect the installers as to detox the home for all future residents) will cost homeowners more money than if they just have insulation laid on top of their accumulated ceiling dust. However, in most cases, non-removal of ceiling dust will make the work of insulation installers non-compliant with OH&S regulations. Note for example, the following statements from NSW WorkCover’s “FACT SHEET: HOW TO SAFELY INSTALL CEILING INSULATION”
When installing ceiling insulation, you should control the health and safety risks associated with:
PRIOR TO INSTALLATION
If you’re an employer, head contractor or self-employed worker, you must:
If you are an installer, before you enter the roof cavity to start the installation:
Now that two states WorkCover authorities have identified the hazard of leaded ceiling dust for insulation installers Australia-wide, all state and territory WorkCover Authorities, should similarly create informative factsheets for insulation installers and police the industry in this, it’s greatest growth phase ever.We include here, for the guidance of householders and/or contractors, a link to NSW WorkCover’s GUIDANCE NOTE FOR CEILING DUSTS CONTAINING LEAD and quotes from it:
Note: The Australian Safety and Compensation Council (ASCC) publish exposure standards in the document National Exposure Standards for Atmospheric Contaminants in the Occupational Environment 3rd Edition [NOHSC: 1003 (1995)]. Values for the exposure standards can be found online in the Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS) database ( www.ascc.gov.au ) and interpretation of these standards can be found in the Guidance Note on the Interpretation of Exposure Standards for Atmospheric Contaminants in the Occupational Environment 3rd Edition [NOHSC: 3008 (1995)].
Safe work procedures
“Contractors and workers involved in the cleaning, repairing or replacement of ceilings are advised to consider the following procedures, in order to minimise health risks from ceiling dust.
These procedures include:
1. Working in ceilings [Information for householders as well as contractors]
2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) [Information for contractors]
The use of Personal Protective Equipment, including:
3. Decontamination and Personal Hygiene [Information for contractors]
The adoption of thorough decontamination procedures before each work break, including the observance of a high standard of personal hygiene. This can be achieved by:
after the work has been done, all equipment must be decontaminated and the area cleaned of dust. Use wet methods to dampen down dust material before wiping up, or use industrial vacuum cleaners.
4. Training [Information for contractors]
Workers should be provided with training that includes:
All training should be documented and a register of training kept.
How much does it cost to detox a home of ceiling dust? Who should pay it?
The Australian Dust Removalists Association (ADRA) website states:“ADRA advises that given today’s current fuel prices and where there is relatively easy access to the job the average cost to vacuum a dust-only ceiling space is approximately $10 per m2 using WORKCOVER specified HEPA filtered equipment by trained staff. The $10 per m2 is for a building of approximately 100m2 and smaller might have a larger charge whereas larger would be less per m2.“Difficult entry and trussed low pitched roofs, removal of rubble and removal of old insulation, both batts and loose fill would involve extra cost. In cases of small areas, expect there to be a minimum job price.”
As noted above, no ceiling dust tests that we’ve seen in Australia have revealed the absence of lead. We therefore do not recommend testing ceiling dust for lead. It would almost certainly be an unnecessary expense in all but the newest of houses.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the federal government were to use some of the billion dollars or so that it received when the 2 cents per litre price differential between leaded and unleaded petrol was introduced in the 1990s to speed the phase-out of leaded petrol, to set up a rebate to cover the cost of ceiling dust removal today, cleaning up all that lead from vehicle emissions once and for all?
The LEAD Group Inc. Fact Sheet Index
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Updated 26 March 2013