- Standard Number:
OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.
September 6, 2005
Ms. Sonya Wilson
Rainbow Environmental Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 54863
Cincinnati, Ohio 45254
Dear Ms. Wilson:
Thank you for your July 15, 2005, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). You have a question regarding OSHA's construction industry asbestos standard, 29 CFR 1926.1101, as applied to a building owner's requirement to determine and communicate the hazards from installed asbestos-containing material (ACM) and presumed asbestos-containing material (PACM). This reply letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not delineated within your original correspondence. Your paraphrased question and our reply are below.
Question: In paragraph 1926.1101(k)(2)(i), the standard says, "Before work subject to this standard is begun, building and facility owners shall identify the presence, location and quantity of ACM and/or PACM at the work site pursuant to paragraph (k)(1) of this section." Does the word "quantity" mean that the building owner must identify the footage (square or linear) prior to abatement, as well as what might be hidden? Or does "quantity" mean the percentage of asbestos within the building material, so you can protect yourself against exposure?
Reply: The term "quantity" in 1926.1101(k)(2)(i) refers to the amount of ACM or PACM at the work site, and the materials are typically quantified in units of square feet or linear feet. The term "quantity" does not refer to the percentage of asbestos within the building material, because the terms "ACM" and "PACM" are already defined in 1926.1101(b) as materials containing, or presumed to contain, more than one percent asbestos.
We will also comment on the background issue described in your letter. You stated that the situation involved plans to demolish some buildings containing ACM and/or PACM. The three involved parties - the building owner, the asbestos abatement contractor, and the environmental consultant - disagreed on responsibilities for the initial identification of ACM and/or PACM in the buildings. The building owner's environmental consultant previously identified that asbestos was present in all of the buildings, and the consultant only quantified the amounts in some of the buildings but not others. The building owner's contract specifications for the planned demolition, upon which the asbestos abatement contractor is presumed to be bidding, requires the contractor to quantify the amount of asbestos to be removed from each building prior to demolition. You also wrote that a local OSHA office, which you contacted, stated that the building owner cannot put in any document that it is the asbestos abatement contractor's responsibility to identify the quantity because it is the building owner's responsibility, according to 1926.1101.
We respond by pointing out that paragraphs 1926.1101(k)(2)(ii) and 1926.1101(k)(2)(ii)(A) do, indeed, require building owners to notify prospective employers applying or bidding for work of the presence, location, and quantity of ACM or PACM at the work sites in their buildings. The building owner's notification would normally include any prior determinations of ACM from bulk sampling data, plus all PACM. However, the quantities of ACM and/or PACM may not be known exactly, especially where ACM and PACM are hidden within the building construction. Therefore, building owners typically inform bidders for demolition work involving asbestos that their amounts of ACM and PACM are approximate, and it would be advantageous to the bidding contractors during a pre-bid walkthrough of the building(s) to verify the quantities of ACM and PACM and to adjust their bids appropriately.
It is also important to point out that the contractor that actually performs the demolition work is required by 1926.1101(k)(3)(i) to identify the presence, location, and quantity of ACM and/or PACM before any work is begun. In addition, 1926.1101(k)(3)(ii) requires the contractor to inform his employees - before work under this standard is performed - of the location and quantity of ACM and/or PACM present in the work area and the precautions to be taken to insure that airborne asbestos is confined to the area. Thus, the standard requires both the building owner and the abatement contractor to identify the presence, location, and quantity of ACM and/or PACM at the work sites.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can continue to consult OSHA's website at www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of Health Enforcement at (202)693-2190.
Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs