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Commercial Flooring News

Asbestos In Floor Tiles

HSE has specific advice for floorlayers. It warns that old asbestos floor tiles are often found hidden under carpets.
Asbestos containing vinyl floor tiles were once a popular choice for flooring and were widely used in commercial buildings and homes until 1999, when asbestos was banned.
If the tiles are disturbed during refurbishment, the microscopic fibres can cause lung disease and cancer.
Asbestos-containing vinyl floor tiles are not very distinctive from what is used now.
HSE recommends that floorlayers ask the owners about how long they’ve had the floor tiles or look for a trade name. Trade names can be look up on the internet.
Work on any type of asbestos can be dangerous. But work on asbestos containing flooring can normally be carried out by non-licensed workers who are appropriately trained provided the material is in good condition. However, if the work is likely to cause significant break up and deterioration of the material then notification is required.
Download the HSE task sheets on how to safely carry out non-licensed work on flooring.
Preparing the work area:
Restrict access. Minimise the number of people present;
Close doors. Use tape and notices to warn others; and
Ensure adequate lighting.
Equipment you should use:
Warning tape and notices;
Sharp knife;
Garden-type sprayer containing wetting agent;
Bucket of water and rags;
Class H vacuum cleaner for large areas;
Asbestos waste container, eg labelled polythene sack; and
Clear polythene sack.
Personal protective equipment (PPE): Disposable overalls fitted with a hood; boots without laces. (Note that laced boots are hard to decontaminate); and respiratory protective equipment.
Removal procedure:
Place the scraper in the joint between the tiles.
Lift tiles gently, trying to avoid breakage.
For firmly fixed tiles, tap the scraper with a hammer;
n For large tiled areas, lift tiles using shovel. This speeds up the job and avoids kneeling close to the tiles.
Spray water under tiles as they are lifted to suppress dust as you lift them gently, avoiding breakage;
Gently scrape up adhering mastic. You can soften mastic with solvent, by warming with infrared lamp or embrittle it with dry ice.
Place debris in waste container.
Caution: Never sand the floor.
Cleaning and disposal:
Where you have removed only a few tiles, use damp rags to clean the floor. Clean larger areas with the Class H vacuum cleaner.
Clean the equipment with damp rags.
Put debris, used rags and other waste in the asbestos waste container and tape it closed.
Put asbestos waste container in a clear polythene sack and tape it closed.
Don’t sweep up dust or debris. (Use Class H vacuum cleaner or damp rags);
Don’t take used overalls home;
Don’t reuse disposable PPE;
Don’t smoke; and
Don’t eat or drink in the work area.
Clearance and checking off:
Visually inspect the area to ensure it has been cleaned properly; and
Get premises owner, duty holder or client to check off the job.
Download all the advice sheets:

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal. You can find them at