You are here

Safe work procedure - storm and wind damage cleanup

Industry: 
All industries
Runtime: 
5 mins 32 secs

It is essential to protect yourself and others when removing debris, particularly when asbestos is concerned. The following procedure will help you to safely cleanup after a storm.

NARRATOR: After a big storm has blown through, the resulting damage could leave you wondering where to start.

Before starting be aware of the risks posed by damaged building products made with asbestos, fallen powerlines or sharp unseen objects.

Asbestos is likely to be found in houses and buildings built before 1990.

Where storms have damaged houses built in this era, you should assume that any debris will contain asbestos.

You will need:

  • A shovel
  • Plastic tarpaulins
  • Plastic bags
  • Duct tape
  • And a bucket you can fill with water, and plenty of rags.

You'll want to protect yourself too, with:

  • disposable overalls
  • a disposable P2 respirator, and
  • gumboots or old boots that you can dispose of later.

If you don't have disposable overalls, use some old clothes that can be thrown away afterwards. Don't consider washing or re-using them, as fibres become caught in the material and can be spread elsewhere.

Right now you've got to deal with this big mess to get your yard safe and clean, so let's get started.

Assuming the sun has started to dry everything out, you will need to dampen it all down again to help suppress any fibres.

So, lightly spray the debris with a garden hose.

Now it's time to gear up.

Take off any jewellery and watches.

Put on your disposable overalls over your clothes.

Now step into the shoes or gumboots you will use for use during the clean-up, then fit your P2 respirator.

Make sure the respirator has a tight fit to your face and creates a good seal.

Take the time to do this correctly.

Lastly, pull the hood up and over your head. This will protect your hair from collecting asbestos fibres.

Ok, now you're ready to begin work.

Small pieces of debris can be placed into thick plastic bags. But if you only have thin plastic shopping bags, then use these, but make sure you only fill them to one-quarter full and double or triple bag them, and tie off each bag.

Use the bag over your hand to pick up the pieces.

After you have a handful, tie the bag up.

Check that nothing is tearing the bags open, or tape the tears closed if any appear.

Tiny pieces of fibro on the ground can be picked up by hand or by using a shovel. Don't try and separate dirt and asbestos pieces, place both the debris and soil into the bag together and assume it is all waste material.

Again, don't overfill the bags and double or triple bag the waste materials and tie off.

Remember, the final aim is to have a neatly sealed package, ready for pick-up by truck or ute.

To allow for easy pickup place some dunnage timber as runners on your driveway, then put down your first tarp to form the base of your package, and then the second tarp over that.

Now that you have an area in which to place your waste debris, pick a large sheet of debris and lay it across the dunnage and tarps to form a sturdy base for the entire package that you'll seal later.

Gently place it down onto the sheet, without breaking it or accidently abrading it.

Now it's just a matter of stacking other large pieces on top of this sheet followed by the waste bags of smaller debris.

If at any time you see anything drying out, dampen it down again with a light spray from the hose.

Back in the area of damage, it's best to ‘wet wipe' any flat surfaces around the debris to ensure all asbestos fibres have been safely captured.

Use a wet rag once, and then fold in half to use it a second time only.

Do not wash out rags and re-use them as this will spread fibres, rather than contain them.

Dispose of wet rags in a waste bag and seal it.

Once everything is stacked on the tarp, place all the collected individual waste bags on top.

Fold over the first layer of tarpaulin and tape it closed.

Now you need take off your PPE carefully.

If possible stand on a clean piece of tarp or plastic to capture any asbestos fibres that may fall off during this process so they can be captured and disposed of as well.

Wet yourself down to dampen any loose fibres that may be stuck to the overalls or clothes that you're wearing.

Take off the damp overalls, by rolling them inside out as you remove them and then dispose of them into a waste bag.

Step out of your gumboots and into your other shoes.

Now wash and clean down your gumboots.

Pick up the tarp or plastic you were standing on and fold it together and also put it into a waste bag.

Lastly, after everything has been disposed of, you can take off your P2 respirator and dispose of it in the waste bag as well.

Double bag the contents and add it to the waste package pile.

Now that everything is safely contained in the package, you can finally seal it closed with duct tape.

Look for any sharp edges that may tear through the tarp and reinforce them with tape.

Now thoroughly wash your hands, and shower off, washing your hair to remove any possible residue from the cleaning up activity.

Congratulations you have now safely secured the scattered debris into one or more neat packages ready for removal by yourself, local council team or licensed asbestos waste carrier.

Refer to the Queensland Government asbestos website for more information about safe work procedures and your local council for more information about waste tips.

Good luck with the rest of your clean up and repairs to your home.