Sunday, May 04, 2008

Operating Engineers Need Asbestos Handler Certificates


Future Environment Designs was recently working with a construction company that needed training to operate machinery (such as backhoes and excavators) inside an asbestos work area. These machines would be used to demolish a building that has asbestos containing roofing materials in place during the demolition.

Discussions with the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) determined that the operating engineers operating the machinery would require asbestos handler training (32 hours of training with a full day refresher annually thereafter) and certificates ($50 fee to NYSDOL; http://www.labor.state.ny.us/formsdocs/wp/sh440.pdf). Our discussion with NYSDOL determined that it is there (NYSDOL) view that though operating engineers are not disturbing asbestos with their hands, they are disturbing asbestos with the machinery. Anyone that disturbs asbestos (by hand or machinery) are required to have an asbestos handler certificate. Operating engineers operating machinery inside an asbestos work area are required to have asbestos handler certificates. NYSDOL will enforce this position even though a separate asbestos contractor was hired to handle the asbestos at the site.

Realize this position means that the construction company employing these operating engineers needs to have an Asbestos Company License ($500 for an initial, $300 for a renewal; http://www.labor.state.ny.us/formsdocs/wp/SH430.pdf). In addition, to getting the company license, the company needs an individual with an asbestos supervisor certificate to be the designated supervisor on the company license. This means someone from the construction company has to be trained at the 40 hour level.

In summary, all of this means any equipment being used in an asbestos work area must be operated by an operating engineer who has an asbestos handler certificate and works for a construction company that is licensed to abate asbestos containing materials. In addition, that asbestos construction company needs a designated supervisor who will be the competent person for the asbestos construction company and be responsible for any infractions at the worksite. If that sounds complicated to you now, imagine if there are violations at the worksite. Which asbestos contractor will be responsible? The asbestos abatement contractor (handling the asbestos) or the asbestos construction contractor (operating engineers)? This will be interesting to see!

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