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Asbestos is a mineral based material composed of small, thin fibers.  It is common in many building materials such as spray-on fire proofing, insulation or sound proofing, cementations finish material, pipe ducts and tank insulation, floor tiles, cement ducts, roofing shingles, etc.  It has been found in a number of campus buildings in many different locations.

OSHA requires that surfacing texture, fire proofing, insulation and floor tile installed prior to 1980 be presumed to contain asbestos unless sample data proves otherwise.  WCU buildings included in this requirement:

Residence Halls Academic Buildings Support Buildings
Young Drive Apts.

Breese Gym
Hunter Library
Natural Science
Old Student Union
Reid Gym

Alumni House
Facilities Management
H.F. Robinson
Highlands Biological Station
Steam Plant

Asbestos is a proven human carcinogen.  Exposure to airborne fibers can cause respiratory diseases, lung cancer, mesotheliomia and other types of cancer.  If asbestos containing material (ACM) remains in good condition and is unlikely to be disturbed, exposure will be negligible.  However, when ACM is damaged or disturbed, asbestos fibers are released creating a potential hazard for maintenance workers and building occupants.  Both North Carolina OSHA and the EPA have set strict standards for personal exposure or environmental release of asbestos fibers.

Program Objectives

The objective of this program is to minimize exposure to airborne asbestos for building service workers and building occupants.  To accomplish this, the program is designed to (1) Monitor the physical condition of ACM.  (2) Where appropriate, monitor airborne asbestos fiber levels in buildings.  (3) Safely contain and remove ACM that may have been damaged by accident.  (4) Establish safe work practices for activities where asbestos is encountered.  The focus is on maintenance, repair and construction workers, since their activities are most likely to create major episodes of fiber release.


The University Safety Officer is designated as Asbestos Control Manager and is responsible for identification and evaluation of ACM, air monitoring where necessary, planning repair, maintenance and custodial operations where asbestos is likely to be disturbed, selection and maintenance of respirators, and maintenance of records.  The Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Management is responsible for designating employees or contracting to remove asbestos, employee attendance at Asbestos Awareness and Operations Training, medical examinations, and implementation of safe work practices and disposal methods.

Planned Projects

Asbestos may be encountered in virtually any project.  The Safety Officer shall review all projects so that the affected area can be evaluated before work is started.

Maintenance Work Orders

When working near asbestos, employees must be careful not to disturb the material.  If completion of a work order would require disturbing what an employee thinks might be asbestos they are to stop their work and notify the Safety Officer.

Medical Exams/Respirators

Annual medical examinations are required for all employees engaged in work involving asbestos or are required to wear respirators.  Examinations will be performed by the University Health Services.  Records of examinations are maintained by the Safety Officer.  Air purifying respirators with replaceable HEPA filters are to be worn at all times during repair and maintenance projects, clean-up projects, and in confined areas with exposed asbestos.  The Safety Officer will issue a respirator for the exclusive use of each employee and provide training in the use of the respirator.  Periodically, each respirator will be cleaned and disinfected by the Safety Officer.  (Reference Western Carolina University Safety Policy #23, "Respiratory Protection").

Work Practice

  • Facilities Management personnel must be trained in asbestos removal techniques in order to perform incidental asbestos removal jobs.  The removal must be incidental to general maintenance and repair.
  • Before removing any asbestos type material, the Safety Officer must first take a bulk sample of the material being removed.  The Safety Officer will develop a written plan for each removal job.  This plan will include a description of the type of asbestos, quantity to be removed, method of removal and protective measures.  Asbestos removal team members will then follow all of the procedures outlined in this plan and Asbestos Removal Training Program.
  • The Safety Officer will be responsible for making sure appropriate safety gear and equipment is on the job site prior to beginning the work.
  • The Safety Officer will be responsible for monitoring the safe work practice of employees while removing asbestos.
  • When the job is complete, the Asbestos removal worker will be responsible for job site clean-up, coordination with the Safety Officer for disposal of asbestos and protective clothing, cleaning of tools and return of asbestos removal equipment, HEPA vacuum, filters, etc.
  • Asbestos will be disposed of by placing bags in drums labeled "CAUTION ASBESTOS CONTAINING MATERIAL".  The drums will be stored in the Chemical Storage Building for pick-up by the asbestos contractor.
  • After the asbestos has been removed from the work site area, the assigned worker will then complete the job. If the job should require re-installation, the new insulation will be non-asbestos insulation.

Prohibited Activities

The following work practices are prohibited:

  • Drilling holes in ACM, sawing or sanding transite duct or slate roof singles.
  • Hanging anything on a structure with surface ACM.
  • Sanding floor tile or stripping floor tile wax with machines greater than 300 rpm or using abrasive pads (black pads).
  • Using an ordinary vacuum, sweeping dust etc. to clean-up ACM.
  • Changing car brakes or clutches dry, using air to blow off brakes.


The Safety Officer will also maintain records of team members, training, medical examinations, health monitors, air samples and other documents necessary to comply with the North Carolina State Law.

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