As an educator or school administrator you’ve chosen a labor of love. The students in your care rely on you not only for their intellectual and emotional growth but for their well being and safety, too.
That puts a lot of pressure on you to be sure that you’re taking the best care of your realm possible, and that includes keeping your schools free of toxic substances like asbestos.
As a naturally occurring substance, asbestos has some unique properties. Its fibers are strong, easily woven into flexible materials and heat resistant. That’s what made it such a popular choice for building materials, pipes, floor tiles, insulation and more.
Unfortunately, we have since learned that it’s also toxic when it’s ingested or inhaled. Asbestos doesn’t dissolve or evaporate so it can end up in the air or water supply in dangerous quantities, especially during renovation projects when materials containing asbestos are disturbed. Inhaling asbestos can damage lungs, impair breathing and cause cancer.
That makes it vital to ensure that it isn’t a danger in your schools, where a safe and healthy environment has been entrusted to your care.
Since Congress passed the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) in 1986, with regulations mandating routine inspections and requiring an active asbestos removal plan, it has been not only morally but also legally incumbent on schools and their administrators to improve and maintain the safety of their facilities.
However, educational institutions face special challenges when dealing with asbestos removal.
One of those challenges is budgetary constraints.
With many schools already cutting staff, extracurricular activities and sports, allocating budget to asbestos removal may seem like a significant hurdle. That’s why it’s crucial to perform inspections and plan remediation properly.
Improper inspections is one of the leading causes of cost overruns. AHERA requires a specific number of samples to be taken before a designated area can be considered asbestos-negative. Poorly executed inspections may result in an inadequate number of samples being taken, requiring additional inspections and cost.
Samples must also be taken from diverse locations within a designated area. Failing to do this may result in a false “all clear” only to turn into a problem later when construction or renovations begin. Discovery of asbestos at that point will stall construction efforts and increase costs.
With a proper inspection, schools can control costs and avoid unnecessary expenditures.
A lack of a good asbestos remediation plan can also contribute to cost issues. You’ve heard the cliché “you get what you pay for” and unfortunately that’s true for asbestos remediation planning. Low planning costs may come with trade offs in quality and thoroughness. But when it comes to remediation planning, you don’t want to be cutting corners.
An inadequate remediation plan will become obvious as soon as you bring in the removal team. And with an on-the-clock asbestos removal team on site, that’s not the time that you want to discover that there’s a lot more work to be done than you thought – or budgeted for.
Good planning is an important component of keeping costs under control and avoiding unpleasant surprises, either during removal or expensive renovation projects.
One way to help control costs is to create an asbestos remediation plan that spans several years, with buildings or areas being cleared systematically over time instead of all at once.
In New York school districts, state and city requirements for the remediation and permit processes are different. That makes it even more important to hire an asbestos consultant that is familiar with the intricacies of the system and who can get it done right the first time – with no additional or unnecessary costs.
Educational institutions face other challenges, as well. Asbestos remediation and removal may be difficult to impossible to do while school is in session, which narrows your window of opportunity for putting key pieces of the process in place.
In most scenarios, it’s important for schools to begin the inspection process in the fall so that planning can begin in January, with the intent of being prepared to perform the removal during the summer months when students are typically home and the property is clear.
Your asbestos consultant should guide you through the process and set expectations so that you can effectively plan your year, or even multiple years at a time.
Asbestos remediation and removal doesn’t have to be a budget-killing, stressful process. With the right team and a good plan, you can control your costs and let the process unfold smoothly, creating a safer, healthier environment for your students and educators.
If you’d like to talk to an experienced team about your school or educational institution, contact us today. We have a history of success and satisfied clients since our beginnings in 1983. Let us help you meet your AHERA requirements in a cost-effective and stress-free way.