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Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.1001; 1915.1001; 1926.1101

November 2, 2007

[Name and address withheld]

Dear Ms. [Name withheld]:

Thank you for your letter of July 16, 2007, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). You have a question regarding OSHA's Asbestos Standard for the construction industry, 29 CFR 1926.1101. This reply letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not detailed in your original correspondence. Your paraphrased question and our reply are below.

Background: Your organization has buildings that have asbestos containing materials (ACM) and presumed asbestos containing materials (PACM). Your organization has contracted out authority for the operation and maintenance (O&M) of these buildings. As you explained in a phone conference with a member of my staff, the contractors' employees are generally trained to perform Class I, II, III, or IV asbestos work, as necessary, but one contractor has trained one group of its employees to perform only Class IV work (in which employees contact but do not disturb ACM or PACM) and another group to perform only Class III work (in which employees are likely to disturb ACM or PACM).

Question: In your phone conference with my office, you explained that you are concerned that the poor conditions and varied locations of asbestos in some of your buildings make it easy for employees to accidentally disturb asbestos during normal O&M activities. Therefore, you want to know whether the contractor's Class IV-trained O&M employees should be trained to perform Class III work

Reply: There is no violation of the Asbestos Construction Standard simply because an employer has one group of employees trained to perform Class III work and another group of employees trained to perform Class IV work at the same worksite. However, it is a violation of the standard for employees to perform Class III work without receiving appropriate Class III training, i.e., employees doing work in which ACM or PACM is likely to be disturbed must be trained to the Class III level. The employer's competent person must determine, in advance, whether employees are likely to disturb ACM or PACM and train employees accordingly. It is also worth noting that a lower class of asbestos work cannot be performed at the same time and in the same work area as a higher class of asbestos work.

On OSHA's website, http://www.osha.gov, we have a compliance instruction concerning the Asbestos Standards, CPL 02-02-063 [CPL 2-2.63 (REVISED)] – Inspection Procedures for Occupational Exposure to Asbestos Final Rule 29 CFR Parts 1910.1001, 1926.1101, and 1915.1001, 11/03/1995. Here are some excerpts from this instruction that may be applicable to your situation:
Q. If an employer has a variety of work activities, how does one decide which class to follow?

A. . . .If more than one "class" of work occurs simultaneously, the work must be performed according to the highest hazard classification.

Q. Under the [Asbestos] Construction Standard [1926.1101], what is the difference between Class III maintenance work and Class IV maintenance work?

A. Class III maintenance work involves "disturbances" of ACM. The clarified meaning of the term "disturbance" [is] an activity that disrupts the matrix of ACM or PACM, crumbles or pulverizes ACM or PACM, or generates visible debris from ACM or PACM. Class IV asbestos work means maintenance and custodial activities during which employees contact but do not disturb ACM or PACM. . .

Q. Is installing a smoke detector in a ceiling where asbestos products are present regulated by the Construction Standard?

A. Depending on the potential source of asbestos exposure, the installation of a smoke detector could be Class IV, Class III, or neither. If the ceiling material to which the detector is to be attached is asbestos, the competent person must assess whether the attachment will involve "contact" (Class IV) or actually "disturb" the ceiling ACM [(Class III)]. Where the source of asbestos exposure [is from] dust and debris above the ceiling, for example from friable sprayed on/troweled on surfacing [ACM], the competent person should direct a Class IV cleanup before installing the detector. Otherwise the installation may be a Class III job if it involves disturbing debris and dust containing asbestos.

Q. What must an employer do if one is not sure what class the asbestos activity belongs in?

A. If it is not clear in which category the work belongs, the employer is to assume the higher, more restrictive, category applies, and must comply with the listed work practices and controls for that category.
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 consult OSHA's website at http://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

Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents

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