The increasing number of state and federal regulations has made the removal of more hazardous materials from buildings, environment, and facilities to prevent future contamination of natural resources.
The hazardous material is removed with the intention of promoting public health and safety. Hazardous materials naturally possess any one of the four characteristics such as corrosion, toxicity, reactivity, and ignitability.
Nature of Work
Hazardous material removal workers remove, identify, transport, package, and dispose off many hazardous materials comprising of nuclear and radioactive materials, asbestos, mercury, arsenic, and lead. Sometimes, these workers are called remediation, abatement, or decontamination workers. Removal workers have to respond to emergencies where dangerous substances are present.
Hazardous material removal workers use various equipments and tools to execute their tasks. The equipment ranges from personal protective suits to brooms, which entirely isolate workers from the hazardous materials. Owing to the threat of contamination, removal workers wear reusable or disposable coveralls, shoe covers, gloves, hard hats, goggles or safety glasses, face shields, chemical-resistant clothing, and other devices to protect one's hearing.
Most of the other workers need to wear respirators while working in order to protect them from noxious gases or airborne particles. The respirator ranges from simple version to self-contained suits. The simple version of respirators covers only the nose and mouth whereas self-contained suits with their own air supply.
Generally, hazardous materials removal workers encounter two contaminants, lead and asbestos. In 1970s, asbestos was used to flooring and fireproof roofing, for heat insulation and a number of other purposes. It was fire retardant, durable, insulated well, and resisted corrosion.
Asbestos is harmless airborne. However, it may cause various lung diseases comprising of asbestosis and lung cancer. Today, the usage of asbestos is lessened. Similarly, lead was a common building component found in plumbing fixtures, paint, and pipes until the late 1970s. Lead can cause serious health risks, especially, in children. Because of these risks, it has become essential to remove lead-based products from structures and buildings.
Lead abatement workers and asbestos abatement workers remove lead, asbestos, and other materials from buildings scheduled to be demolished or renovated. Using various power tools such as scrapers and vacuums, these workers remove the lead and asbestos from surfaces. Lead abatement workers have to apply the compound with a putty knife and let it dry. Then these workers scrape the hazardous material into an impregnable container for transmit and storage. Removal workers also use high-pressure water sprayers and sandblasters to remove lead from the huge structures.
Removal workers use vacuums that are highly efficient filters designed and modified to entrap the asbestos, which is later stored. Removal workers have to measure the amount of lead and asbestos in the air. They measure asbestos and lead using special monitor. Lead abatement workers wear a personal air monitor, which specify the amount of lead to which a removal worker has been exposed.
Most of the hazardous material removal workers specialize in radioactive substances. Decontamination technicians execute duties similar to those of cleaners and janitors. They use mops, brooms, and other tools to remove exposed items and clean exposed areas for disposal or decontamination. Nowadays, these jobs are performed by robots controlled by people away from the contamination site.
Hazardous materials removal workers execute their tasks in highly structured environment to lessen the danger they encounter. Each stage of the operation is preplanned and workers are trained to cope with hazardous situations and safety breaches. Supervisors and crews take every precaution to make sure that the workplace is safe. A hazardous material removal worker has to stoop, stand, and kneel for long periods while working with mold, lead abatement, asbestos and radioactive decontamination. Some removal workers wear fully enclosed personal protective suits for many hours. These suits may be uncomfortable and hot and cause some individuals to experience claustrophobia. A hazardous material removal worker needs to carry out following responsibilities.
There is no formal education required to become a hazardous material removal worker. However, candidates who completed a high school diploma are preferred. State, federal, and local government standards require specific types of on-the-job training. This training ought to meet the specific requirements established by the states or federal government.