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Mar 27, 2013
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How to Drill into Asbestos SafelyAccidentally drilling asbestos and inhaling the hazardous dust can cause asbestos-related disease. Bonded asbestos, which is fibro sheets still intact, easily releases fibers into the air if it is drilled, broken, or scraped. If you have to drill and can’t leave it untouched, here’s how to drill into asbestos safely.First, you’ll want to identify the asbestos. It’s important to know of the risks of asbestos in homes. It’s best not to disturb or drill into any material that contains asbestos.Next, you’ll want to prevent the dust. Here’s the equipment you will need:

  • Drill—a hand drill is preferred, but a low-speed battery-powered drill can be used. Never use a high-speed drill.
  • Disposable cleaning rags
  • Bucket of water
  • Misting spray bottle
  • Duct tape
  • Sealant
  • Gel or paste substance like wallpaper paste, shaving cream or hair gel
  • Two 0.2mm plastic bags for waste
  • Disposable plastic drop sheet
  • Sturdy, disposable cup if working overhead
  • Personal protective equipment: respirator, disposable coveralls, safety goggles and disposal gloves

Now, you need to prepare your work space. To do this, you must:

  • Remove all loose, unnecessary items from the area
  • Restrict entry while working
  • Use plastic sheeting secured by duct tape to cover surfaces of the work area and as drop sheets
  • Put on protective equipment
  • Check the fit of your respirator by manufacturer’s instructions

Do drill, you must:

  • Tape the point to be drilled. If possible, tape exit point.
  • Cover the drill entry and exit points with generous amounts of thickened substance
  • Drill through the paste.
  • If passing cable through, insert a sleeve to protect the inner edge of the hole.
  • If working overhead,
  • Drill hole through the bottom of the cup.
  • Fill or line the inside of the cup with paste/gel.
  • Put drill bit through the hole in the cup. Make sure the drill bit extends beyond the lip of the cup.
  • Align the drill bit with marked point.
  • Ensure cup is firmly held against the surface you’re drilling.
  • Drill through surface
  • Remove cup

When finished, you need to clean up. To do this:

  • Keep your respirator on until you finish and remove your work clothing.
  • Use damp rags to clean off the paste and debris from surface and bit
  • Seal the cut edges
  • Carefully roll or fold plastic sheeting from the floor to prevent spilling debris.

Domestic vacuum cleaners are unsuitable and should never be used, even if they have a HEPA filter. Use water to clean if possible. If needed, use an approved asbestos vacuum cleaner.

  • Do not soak used rags in bucket. Fold the rag and use the clean surface or use a new rag.
  • Place asbestos waste: debris, used rags, plastic sheeting, in disposal bags half full to prevent spilling
  • Wet down personal protective equipment and clothing with a light spray of water. Place all used damp cloths into a disposable bag.
  • Before removing the bags, wipe external surfaces with damp rags to remove any dust and put used rags in one of the bags.
  • Seal all disposal bags with duct tape, place into a second disposal bag, and seal again.
  • Label all bags with appropriate warning:
    • Dispose of asbestos waste at the appropriate waste facility.
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