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030 Asbestos Abatement Unauthorized Entry

wash area

An asbestos abatement contractor alerted the university of an unauthorized entry into an active asbestos abatement work zone on campus. A Cornell employee was found in a mechanical room, completing non-emergency work unrelated to the asbestos abatement where they knowingly entered through the work zone airlock posted with asbestos “Danger” signage. The employee was not affiliated with the project, was not an authorized visitor, was not equipped with the appropriate personal protective equipment, and was promptly asked to leave the work area by the contractor.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring material that has historically been used in a wide variety of products, and extensively in building materials. Asbestos is a highly regulated material in the United States due to its adverse health effects and is subject to strict regulations such as work area containment, approved work practices, personal protective equipment, and restricted entry into the work zone.

When you observe abatement notices on entryways or are on active construction projects, always remember:

  1. Asbestos abatement work zones are highly regulated by the New York State Department of Labor under NYS Code Rule 56, and OSHA under 29 CFR 1926.1101.
  2. Anyone entering an active abatement work zone is required to maintain state certifications such as Asbestos Handler or higher, or be an Authorized Visitor.
    1. Authorized Visitors are any party on an asbestos project, who must enter the asbestos project restricted area or regulated abatement work area for emergency purposes or regulatory compliance inspections. 
    2. All others are considered unauthorized and shall not enter the work zone for any reason.
  3. Employees who may encounter asbestos abatement projects on campus such as Facilities Management, Project Management, Engineering, IT, Building Care, Trades, etc. shall take EHS 2384 (Asbestos Awareness) on CU Learn.