Asbestos

Notice to Employees

(This information is to be provided to all new University employees)

All University of Washington employees are required by the WA State Dept. Labor and Industries Asbestos Regulations to receive notification of the presence of asbestos containing materials (ACM) in University-owned or leased buildings.

General Asbestos Awareness Training

All new UW employees are required to complete General Asbestos Awareness training when hired. This training is available online or in a classroom setting. This online course requires your UW NetID and you will need to take the course in one sitting. Or you can register for classroom training through our training page. Registration requires your UW NetID.

Asbestos General Awareness Refresher

The Asbestos Genearal Awareness Refresher online training is recommended for employees who work with asbestos. The online refresher may be completed in 10 minutes.

Note Regarding Security Certificates

Please see the Asbestos in Your Workplace Poster to learn more about asbestos at the University.


Asbestos in Buildings

Many buildings at the University have ACM in certain building materials used in their construction. Certain University buildings contain intact asbestos materials in public access areas. These materials may include:

  • Vinyl asbestos floor tiles or linoleum sheet flooring
  • Mastic used to attach flooring, ceiling tiles, carpet, cove base, cork board
  • Pipe insulation
  • Joint compounds used in sheetrock walls
  • Acoustical/decorative plaster
  • Spackling
  • Fire doors
  • Acoustic ceiling tiles
  • Baseboards
  • Concrete pipes and siding
  • Exterior siding
  • Window putty

The asbestos in the above listed materials is normally bonded with vinyl, epoxy, cement or other materials.

  • Under normal conditions they do not pose a health threat.
  • However, if the material is cracked, drilled, sanded, or otherwise disturbed, it could result in the release of asbestos fibers into the air that could present a health risk.
  • As long as the outer canvas cover or metal sheathing on the pipes is intact, the insulation does not present a health problem.

In addition, some laboratory and machine shop areas have benches, storage cabinets, or fume hoods constructed with ACM.

ACM such as, pipe insulation, gaskets, flex duct connections, and roofing asphalt may be found in areas not normally accessed by the public.

Any work involving ACM must only be performed by personnel who have received asbestos awareness training or are certified asbestos workers using proper work practices, containment equipment, and personal protective equipment.

University Departments are responsible for properly managing asbestos in their buildings and related spaces. An Asbestos Management Plan should be in place. This plan outlines functions the department and/or their contractor will perform with regards to training, notification, monitoring, jobsite controls, safe work practices, recordkeeping, etc., for maintaining asbestos in-place and for instances when asbestos may be disturbed. Please see the Focus Sheet on Asbestos in Buildings – Department Responsibilities for Operations and Maintenance of Asbestos to learn more.


Preventing Exposure

Introduction

You can help prevent the potential of asbestos exposure to yourself and others by observing the following practices:

  • Immediately report damaged ceilings, walls, pipe insulation, floor tiles, or other building surfaces to your supervisor or building coordinator.
  • Ask to see the Good Faith Inspection (GFS) before the start of a project that may involve disturbing ACM or Presumed Asbestos-Containing Material (PACM).
  • If there has not been a GFS conducted then all materials are considered PACM and treated as asbestos until otherwise confirmed as non-asbestos.
  • Be careful not to damage building materials and surfaces that may contain asbestos. For example do not:
    1. Disturb walls or ceilings, especially if they are plaster coated
    2. Pound in nails to hang pictures
    3. Put hooks in ceilings for plants
    4. Install wall-hung shelving
    5. Pull up carpeting which is glued down
  • Do not enter construction areas.
  • Do not enter restricted access areas.

The University is involved in a variety of activities to control asbestos hazards on campus. The University has conducted surveys to identify areas where ACM is present and manages ACM in place. If you suspect a material in your work area may be ACM or PACM and it appears damaged or is releasing fibers, contact EH&S at (206) 543-1713, or the Facilities Services Asbestos Coordinator at (206) 685-3357.

For additional information refer to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) about Asbestos.


Asbestos Restricted Areas

An Asbestos Restricted Area is an area where an asbestos exposure hazard exists and cleanup or repair is impractical or has been deferred until funding becomes available for correction of the hazard. Asbestos restricted areas are only established in areas that are not normally occupied spaces, and access control is overseen by EH&S.

Most restricted areas have this sign posted:

Access to Asbestos Restricted Areas

Access to asbestos restricted areas may require any or all of the following:

  • Additional training and/or hazard communication
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Pre-cleaning and/or asbestos abatement
  • Completion of work by a certified asbestos abatement contractor

Access to asbestos restricted areas is controlled by locks and signage whenever feasible. EH&S maintains a list of asbestos restricted areas, as well as a list of areas previously restricted which have been removed from the restricted area list.


Asbestos Emergency Closures

EH&S is responsible to follow up on reports of disturbance of asbestos-containing materials (ACM). ACM can inadvertently be disturbed (or damaged) during renovation, tenant improvements, and construction and demolition activities, but can also occur due to severe weather, water damage or accidental contact by employees, students, visitors and staff. If you believe ACM has been disturbed EH&S should be notified immediately.

When ACM is disturbed it may be necessary to restrict access to a room or space until repairs are completed. Restricting access is necessary to help assure that ACM is contained and not further disturbed or tracked to other areas of the building. In rare cases disturbed ACM can pose a health risk to occupants of the affected space.

EH&S has the authority to close rooms and areas under Presidential Executive Order #55 to prevent the spread of ACM and to prevent exposure.

example of emergency closure sign

Facilities Services Regulated Building Materials Management Office may post a space closed on behalf of EH&S. Questions regarding the closure should be directed to EH&S at 206-543-0467 office, or 206-200-0982 (mobile).


Cardboard on Your Floor?

Environmental Health and Safety has issued an awareness letter for building occupants who have had cardboard placed over their flooring. We have also issued a notice for those who may be unknowingly damaging their floor tile.