Do asbestos workers have to be licensed?
You may be wondering if asbestos removal or abatement workers have to be licensed. Let’s start by discussing what asbestos is. Then, we will discuss the licensing requirements for asbestos removal workers.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used in hundreds of applications for centuries. Its strength, insulating powers as well as its fire resistance has made it invaluable to the construction industry. It has been used in over 3,000 different building materials including pipe and broiler insulation, vinyl flooring and so much more. Despite its versatility, asbestos has been found to be dangerous when inhaled. That fact created a new industry for asbestos abatement in the early 1980s. In light of the fact that asbestos is now a known health hazard, workers performing the asbestos abatement need to be educated, trained, and licensed to know the full scope of risks and safe work practices.
All state governmental agencies along with Federal OSHA rules require abatement workers to be trained and licensed before beginning work. The course for asbestos abatement worker training is a four-day course, (32 hours). Both classroom and hands-on activities will teach workers the required subject matter in accordance with the EPA, OSHA, state, and local rules and regulations. Topics for the course include matters such as the background of asbestos-containing products and uses, personal protective equipment and clothing, safe work practices, and other pertinent topics. Those individuals that wish to become asbestos abatement supervisors are required to attend additional training, usually one more day for a total of 40 hours. Graduates of both courses must complete a written exam usually made up of fifty or more multiple-choice questions, and must score a grade of 70% or higher. Once the course and exam have been taken and passed, the worker or supervisor may apply for a state asbestos worker or supervisor license from applicable State agency. These regulatory agencies provide a picture ID card which is valid for one year.
After the initial 32 or 40 hour course, workers and supervisions must take part in an annual refresher class which is generally 8 hours long. Because asbestos highly regulated, anyone working in the asbestos abatement industry must be licensed.
Specific rules and regulations will vary from state to state so be sure to check with the applicable agency in your state.