It has been more than 12 years since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated its standards for occupational exposure to asbestos. Shortly after it did so, OSHA entered into a formal settlement agreement with NRCA, revising the standards as they relate to roofing work. Although these revised standards remain in place, a brief review of the scope and application of the rules is appropriate because you still may encounter jobs where asbestos-containing material is present.
Asbestos in roofing material may be found in select built-up roofing felts, bituminous flashings, asbestos-cement shingles, transite panels, asphalt shingles, coatings, cements and mastics. The definitive way to tell whether roofing material contains asbestos is to have a sample analyzed by a testing facility. Roofing material is subject to OSHA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations if it contains more than 1 percent asbestos.
Asbestos is referred to as either friable (nonintact), meaning it can be crumbled and become airborne, or nonfriable (intact), indicating the fibers may be encapsulated by some type of binding agent—such as cement or asphalt—that significantly limits the likelihood of fiber release and inhalation. Most roofing material that contains asbestos is considered nonfriable and intact.
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