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AHERA Regulations Simplified

AHERA Regulations Simplified

By on Apr 12, 2017 in Asbestos, Blog |

In December 2015, it was determined by United States Senators that the federally mandated Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) is basically ignored by most school districts within the country, leaving maintenance workers, contractors and children at considerable risk of asbestos exposure. Asbestos is considered a carcinogen and scientists believe there is no safe level of exposure to a carcinogen. Two Senators sent letters to every governor of the country asking for a summary of any remaining asbestos hazards in our schools. Interestingly, Chris Christie of New Jersey was one of the 30 governors who did not bother to respond. Of the 20 that did respond, it was immediately apparent that states are not following the simple procedures and inspections to ensure compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indirectly putting children and maintenance workers at risk for asbestos exposure.

AHERA reduces asbestos health hazardsAHERA was passed by Congress in 1986 to require schools to manage and/or remove any Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) present. The health hazards relating to asbestos inhalation have been known for decades, but it was not until the late ’80s that our government fully acknowledged these hazards and passed laws such as AHERA. These hazards include lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma — all life threatening or severely debilitating. As removal of ACM is expensive and dangerous in itself, it is acceptable to responsibly manage any remaining ACM unless it will be impacted by renovation or demolition activities. Managing existing ACM is not complicated or difficult — all it requires is attention and effort by the designated person (defined by AHERA as the individual named by the educating agency to take personal responsibility to oversee and track ACM in the school building(s)). The process can be simplified for school districts by the hiring of environmental consultants who know the regulations and have certified inspectors on staff to conduct the necessary inspections.

How to Comply with AHERA — An AHERA Checklist

Below is a checklist of the steps all public and non-profit schools must take to comply with federal AHERA regulations:

Note: This AHERA checklist can be saved using cookies, meaning you can come back to our website and check off what you have completed so far to stay on track and the checks are saved!

[frontend-checklist name=”Comply with AHERA Checklist”]

A PDF version of the checklist is also available:

[frontend-checklist name=”Comply with AHERA Checklist” type=”pdf” title=”AHERA Compliance Checklist” linktext=”To the Checklist”]

AHERA regulations for public schools

Friable ACM is defined as any ACM that can be crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder by hand pressure when dry. It is the most dangerous form of asbestos as “friable” means the minuscule fibers have come apart, able to float in the air and be inhaled.

One person, the designated person, should be in charge of the AHERA operations within the school district so that everything is taken care of responsibly and without confusion.

Asbestos Awareness Training

Prior to implementation of any Operations and Maintenance (O&M) activities outlined by the AMP and determined by the inspection(s), all members of the maintenance and custodial staff who work in the building that contains ACM must take at least two hours of asbestos awareness training, even if they are not working directly with it. Any new hires on the staff must be trained within 60 days of employment. Other members of the staff include: custodians, electricians, heating/air conditioning engineers, plumbers, etc. The training itself should include:

  • Basic information on asbestos, its uses and forms
  • The potential health effects from asbestos exposure
  • Locations of all ACM identified throughout the school buildings in which they work
  • How to recognize any damage, deterioration or delamination of ACM
  • Contact information for the designated person in charge of AHERA activities and the location of the AMP

If any of the maintenance/custodial staff are going to engage in any activities that would result in the disturbance of any ACM, these employees must receive an additional fourteen hours of training.

In addition, the designated person in charge of implementing the AHERA activities should also have the proper training and skills. This training should include:

  • The potential health effects from asbestos exposure
  • Detection, identification and assessment of ACM
  • Options for controlling and managing ACM
  • Basics of asbestos management programs
  • Relevant Federal and State regulations

Any conflict of interest should be considered when choosing the designated person for your school district. If the designated person leaves his or her position, the Local Education Agency (LEA) must ensure that a new individual is chosen to resume the duties who is also trained.

Asbestos Management Plan

Certain records are mandatory to be included in the AMP to comply with regulations. Use our checklist to make sure you have everything!

Note: This AHERA checklist can be saved using cookies, meaning you can come back to our website and check off what you have completed so far to stay on track and the checks are saved!

[frontend-checklist name=”Asbestos Management Plan”]

A PDF version of the checklist is also available:

[frontend-checklist name=”Asbestos Management Plan” type=”pdf” title=”My AMP Checklist” linktext=”To the Checklist”]

AHERA regulations can seem overwhelming and confusing, especially if your school district has a lot of ACM present. The presence of ACM especially becomes an issue when outside contractors are employed to engage in any renovation activities. If the contractor is unaware of the presence of asbestos and illegally removes ACM, this can result in excessive cleanup costs, federal fines, frightened parents and a closed school. This is just one example of an injurious result of poor planning and non-adherence to AHERA regulations.

Do not slack off with your school’s asbestos management — not only are these federal regulations, but by not following them, young school children, perhaps even including your own children, may be at considerable risk for asbestos exposure. Just designate one person to keep everything organized, follow our checklists and it’ll be much easier to comply and keep everyone safe and happy.

Karl Environmental AHERA Consulting

Some simple steps can help you avoid a scenario such as the one described above. How can we help?

  1. Conduct 3-year and 6-month inspections using government certified inspectors
  2. Provide 2–hour Asbestos Awareness training to school custodial staff and outside contractors
  3. Assist and provide oversight for outside contractors who may need to do building remediation and/or renovation

AHERA asbestos awareness trainingWe are available at (800)527-5581 to walk office personnel through the process of hiring an outside contractor and having them sign the notification form. Even if the contractor states that he will not disturb any ACM/ACBM, having them sign the notification form puts liability on them if they do happen to disturb it.

Outside contractors should be put in touch with your environmental consultant so that they can be on-site if the contractor anticipates any disturbance of ACM or they have any questions regarding the management plan. Karl Environmental is happy to be on-site for any meetings or consultation needs with your outside contracting firms, should the need arise.

Classes are offered at our facility, in Mohnton, PA or on-site at the facility of your choice. Remember: planning and follow-through are critical to keep our next generation safe and healthy and to remain compliant — can we help you?