If you have recently hired a licensed asbestos inspector who discovered asbestos on your property, it is imperative that you remove it quickly and efficiently, especially if it is damaged, or a renovation or demolition is scheduled. Asbestos abatement and removal should only be performed by licensed professionals–this means finding a good IDPH licensed contractor should be your top priority.
When you select an asbestos abatement contractor, there are five key factors you should keep in mind: Licensure, experience, compliance, subcontracting, and oversight. Each of these factors will help you select the best contractor for your asbestos abatement needs.
Let’s break down what to look for in each key factor when selecting an asbestos abatement contractor.
Asbestos Abatement Licensure
Each US state has different criteria for contractors to get licensed for asbestos abatement. The first step is to get all workers certified by an accredited training provider. Many states require contractors to reapply for licensure each year, both for individual workers and contracting companies.
Make sure to look up details on your state’s asbestos abatement licensure and ask any contractors you are talking to if they are licensed.
State-certified asbestos abatement licensure demonstrates a contractor and its workers have passed rigorous training and testing standards. These usually include requirements like:
- Contacts to prove a contractor has safely conducted asbestos abatement in the past
- Proof of insurance
- Recent air monitoring data from an asbestos abatement project
- Proof of a comprehensive standards & procedures guide
- Employee & client protection plans
- Any fines or violations due to negligence or not following abatement guidelines
- Any lawsuits (pending or completed) related to asbestos
Remember, these are general things required for licensure, not state specifics. Even if your state requires more or less than this for asbestos abatement licensure, these are all good things to look for in a potential contractor. Look at your state’s licensure requirements to make sure you are hiring a reputable contractor.
Asbestos Abatement Contractor Experience
Hiring an experienced abatement contractor is very important to get the job done right. If you are talking to a relatively new contractor, make sure the supervisor has the experience and can provide examples of previous work. If you are unsure of a potential contractor’s credentials, ask for references.
Asbestos can be found in countless different environments and situations. No two asbestos abatement jobs are the same. Having a contractor that knows how to correctly handle asbestos abatement in different situations is very important.
If you decide to look at the experience of a potential asbestos abatement contractor, here are the most important things to look for:
- Prior jobs and experience
- References and reviews
- Experience with jobs similar to yours (industrial, commercial, residential etc.)
- Scales of past jobs (large or small)
- How long have the company or supervisor (at a newer company) been licensed for?
Making sure any potential contractors have legitimate experience should be one of your priorities when selecting an asbestos abatement contractor. The time you spend searching online or making phone calls will be worth it.
Asbestos Abatement Contractor Compliance
Asbestos abatement compliance is something most clients don’t think about. This shouldn’t be the case as compliance is extremely important. Following codes and regulations ensures that strict measures are taken to protect people and the environment. Keep in mind that regulations may be more stringent in a municipality than IDPH or USEPA require.
A good asbestos abatement program includes plans and contingencies for the removal process and how to dispose of the asbestos. Improper disposal of asbestos can lead to negative health or environmental issues and can result in significant fines.
Here are a few things to look at if you are hesitant about signing a contract with an asbestos abatement contractor due to compliance:
- Any negative reports from local regulatory agencies
- Past lawsuits against the contractor related to asbestos
- Talk to your state’s licensing board and ask about any complaints filed
- Look at how they handle workers’ safety and ask for a Site Safety Plan.
Finding out if your contractor is compliant with all asbestos-related laws and regulations is important to avoid any unforeseen headaches.
Asbestos Abatement Subcontracting
Another crucial aspect of evaluating a potential asbestos abatement contractor is to find out if they subcontract any of the work. Remember to ask any potential contractors if they conduct asbestos abatement with an in-house team or use a subcontractor.
Subcontracting is fine in many situations, but looking into a subcontractor requires all the points listed in the above sections (licensure, experience, and compliance). There may be a lack of communication between a contractor and a subcontractor, so making sure the team that performs your abatement is legitimate is imperative.
If a potential contractor asks you directly about subcontracting, here are a few things to ask them:
- Will the General Contractor provide oversight?
- Do you (the client) have any say in selecting subcontractors?
- Will the subcontracting affect your agreement in any way?
- Are there any conflicts of interest that arise with a subcontractor?
Getting this information can help you make an informed decision about using subcontractors for your abatement project.
Asbestos Abatement Contractor Oversight
Oversight is a key factor to take into account when selecting an asbestos abatement contractor. Having proper oversight ensures that the job will be done properly according to laws and regulations. It also helps reinforce safety as oversight prevents many instances of workers cutting corners or other unsafe practices.
Abatement jobs must be handled with care. A sloppy asbestos abatement job can lead to negative health and environmental repercussions.
Oversight can also ensure that you are getting the work you pay for. If you are unsure about how the oversight works, ask any potential contractor about their oversight policies and procedures. Many clients use the services of a licensed Asbestos Project Manager to perform oversight of the contractor, as is required in AHERA, the Asbestos In Schools rule.
In addition, a licensed Air Sampling Professional who is independent of the Asbestos Contractor can ensure that air in the abatement area has passed “clearance sampling” at the end of a project.
If you select a contractor that starts a job with no oversight, you may get complaints from neighbors or, worse, city officials. Anything from excessive noise to dust can trigger complaints and oversight is necessary to avoid them.
Asking questions is the best way to get information from any potential asbestos abatement contractor. This gives you information about their process and things to look up on your own. An experienced and competent contractor will have responses ready for any of the above key points.
When you talk to your state’s licensure board be sure to ask any questions that you have. Make a list of potential contractors before you call so you can ask specific questions if you need to. Nearly all states have an online list of licensed contractors. In Illinois, the list is found at the following link: http://www.dph.illinois.gov/search/site/asbestos
You have options when hiring an asbestos abatement contractor. Use these options to select the best contractor for the job.
Illinois Environmental Contractors Association Resources
For more information on finding a local contractor, check the resources below:
- Illinois Environmental Contractors Association Members
- IECA Common Questions & Answers
- Illinois Environmental Organizations & Related Agencies
If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our associates to find an answer to your situation. With more than 40 Illinois-licensed companies represented by IECA members, we believe that collective action through association is the most effective way to deal with the changing demands of doing business.