The last 20 years has seen growing concerns over asbestos and many property owners are faced with the dilemma of what to do once their old roof starts to deteriorate and leak. Many roofs have been removed in the past and replaced due to health concerns whilst others have been replaced with better insulated roofing materials.
What is Asbestos Cement?
Asbestos cement is a mixture of cement and asbestos (usually about 10-15% of the total product) forming a hard material often used as corrugated roofing on sheds, garages, farm buildings and industrial units. Asbestos cement usually contained white asbestos (chrysotile) but older types may contain blue (crocidolite) or brown (amosite).
The type used is not really important as all asbestos is hazardous, although asbestos cement does not release many fibres and is relatively low risk. It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between an asbestos cement product and a low-density insulation board. Where the product has been used as a roofing or cladding product open to the weather, you can be confident that the product is asbestos cement.
If your roof is made with Asbestos Cement, a licence is not needed to remove it. However, in compliance with HSE, All Roofing and Building is highly experienced in handling the product and fully aware of the strict guidelines that must be followed to remove and dispose of the product correctly. A licensed contractor is only needed to work on High Risk Asbestos such as pipe insulation or insulation panels – NOT on Asbestos cement which is considered much less dangerous.
It is still important to take precautions with handling old asbestos sheets and protective overalls and face masks are recommended. Cutting is considered hazardous and therefore not recommended.
Whilst the HSE do recognise the hazard of Asbestos in fibre cement sheets, it is far more likely that serious dangers come from walking on the roofs without protection from falling through them.
Many serious accidents in the past have arisen through people falling through them as the asbestos sheet can break under the persons feet. With Health & safety now being a formidable force any activity on a asbestos roof should be done only after safety netting has been erected. So even if you have roof-lights to be changed or minor repairs are needed this is essential before any work or inspection is carried out.
Should all asbestos sheets be dumped?
With so many agricultural buildings in use there has to be a call for using the roofing sheets again as many are perfectly good when stripping off roofs.
The main problem with re-using old asbestos sheets is that they get slippery when they are wet, dry conditions would be needed to refix them but then again any work on old roofs should be done in good conditions. However in a world that considers recycling as a good thing it has to be right that this should be done whenever possible. Other benefits are that it stops old buildings that have had repairs from looking like patchwork quilts, due to the use of new sheets.
Occassionally we have in stock used fibre cement sheets which we use for repairs, these sometimes come in when newish farm buildings are changed to be used for industrial.
How experienced are we at strip and re-sheeting asbestos roofing?
Well, we have stripped literally 1000’s of tons off and our biggest job to date was a 10,000 sq meter double skin off with a double skin tin replacement. We are always interested in anything bigger or smaller re-sheeting jobs than that..