Cable and Wireless are about to start the redevelopment of their facilities at The Briars however like many buildings in St Helena, some of the Cable & Wireless buildings at The Briars contain asbestos. This asbestos must be removed safely to allow the redevelopment to take place.

To this end, staff from Williams Building Contractors and Services have been undertaking training arranged by Cable &To this end, staff from Williams Building Contractors and Services have been undertaking training arranged by Cable & Wireless in the safe removal of asbestos. This included training in the use of personal protective equipment as well as work methods. A representative of the Environmental Health Department was also involved in the training to ensure that a representative of the Environmental Health Department was also involved in the training to ensure that Environmental Health Department was also involved in the training to ensure that independent inspection and monitoring can be carried out.

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Constructing The Enclosure

A representative of the Environmental Health Department was also involved in the training to ensure that a representative of the Environmental Health Department was also involved in the training to ensure that Environmental Health Department was also involved in the training to ensure that independent inspection and monitoring can be carried out.

Chris Williams of WBCS said “Our training went very well. There are now four people on the Island who have been trained to remove and dispose of asbestos materials using proper and safe procedures. The training will not only allow Cable & Wireless to continue with the redevelopment at The Briars, but will also be of benefit to WBCS and others in the future particularly if any law relating to asbestos removal is introduced on the Island. I am grateful to Cable & Wireless for the opportunity we were given to undertake the training and to Kieran Donnellan who delivered it.”

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Preparing An Area For Asbestos Removal

Jason Thomas from the Environmental Health Department said “The training was very beneficial and provided a good insight into asbestos removal. I see this as being instrumental in raising awareness in Health & Safety standards for both the private sector and SHG when dealing with asbestos. I hope the precedent set by Cable & Wireless will be followed by others”.

Once the training started, The Briars suddenly looked like a scene from CSI:New York with people wandering around in overalls and masks in enclosures made from polythene sheeting and fabric tape!

Kieran Donnellan from Fleet Insulation Company in the UK visited the island last week to carry out the training. Kieran has been involved in other asbestos removal jobs for Cable & Wireless in the Falkland Islands and also on Ascension Island.

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A Completed Enclosure. The Airlock Can Be Clearly Seen To The Left.

As well as lots of overalls, masks, and dozens of red and clear bags, special vacuum cleaners and filtered extraction units have been purchased to ensure the asbestos material can be removed safely. A special decontamination facility has also been constructed for the people involved in the asbestos removal to clean themselves after work has been carried out. Special air filters and water filters have also been purchased for this.

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Removing Asbestos In An Enclosure

Before any asbestos is removed, an enclosure is constructed using lots of polythene sheeting, glue, fabric tape and lengths of timber to ensure that asbestos fibres don’t spread to other areas of the building. When constructed, the enclosures are tested with smoke to ensure that there are no leaks. Purpose built filtered extraction units are used to ensure the air in the enclosure is regularly changed. An air lock is constructed for people to move in and out of the enclosure and for waste to be removed from the enclosure.

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Inspecting The Area After Asbestos Removal Has Been Completed

Some hand tools dedicated to asbestos removal also had to be purchased. This is because tools like grinders and drills contain moving parts which become contaminated with asbestos dust. Once a tools such as drill has been used in an enclosure for asbestos removal, it must never be used outside of an enclosure in case it releases asbestos fibres. Simple tools like hammers and crow bars can easily be cleaned.

After asbestos removal is complete and the entire enclosure has been thoroughly cleaned, all surfaces are sealed with a clear drying sealant to ensure that no remaining asbestos fibres can be released into the air.

Finally, after the sealant has dried and left overnight with the extraction units running, the enclosure is thoroughly inspected to ensure that there are no remaining traces of asbestos. Only then can the polythene enclosure be dismantled.

From the pictures you will notice two different colours of overalls. Red overalls are worn in the contaminated area during removal and white overalls are worn at other times.

Mark Heron, Manager Networks from Cable & Wireless said that “The training went really well and the guys seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. It was great to see them pick up these new skills so quickly and put them into practice. Ensuring that contractors have the appropriate skills to undertake tasks required of them is very important. In the case of asbestos removal where these skills have not previously existed, it is rewarding to know that the investment made in this training by Cable & Wireless will be of future benefit to the Island as a whole and not just to Cable & Wireless.”

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Kieran Donnellan With Dave, Jason & Scorchy