EHS Management

EPA, OSHA: Which Asbestos Regs Apply to Us?

Asbestos & EPA

EPA regulations focus on containing the amount of asbestos fibers released in order to protect public health and the environment. EPA’s National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for asbestos regulates the release of asbestos when facilities containing ACM are demolished or renovated, and specifies procedures for asbestos removal and abatement.

Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA oversees the ban and/or phase-out of certain ACM and asbestos uses, the determination of current levels of ACM in the environment through sampling and analysis, and the administration of the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) and the Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Reauthorization Act (ASHARA). In addition, since OSHA standards are not applicable to public employers, TSCA contains provisions to ensure that public employees are protected under OSHA asbestos regulations. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) also come into play when complying with EPA asbestos regulations.

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Asbestos & OSHA

OSHA standards focus on worker protection and limiting asbestos exposure. Although OSHA addresses asbestos in a number of standards, this section will focus on OSHA’s general industry and construction standards for asbestos. The former applies to general industry workplaces and protects workers who are exposed to ACM, including workers performing brake and clutch repair and those doing custodial work in buildings and facilities where ACM exists. The general industry standard does not apply to construction sites. OSHA’s construction standard covers employees during construction work, including the alteration, repair, and demolition of structures containing asbestos.

Asbestos & Agency Overlap

There is a great deal of confusion as to which agency’s asbestos regulations apply, especially during demolition and renovation activities. Unfortunately, OSHA and EPA do not have a Memorandum of Agreement on asbestos activities, although OSHA does provide some guidance in specific circumstances.

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So, it cannot be definitely said that if you are in compliance with one set of asbestos regulations you are in compliance with the other. When involved in asbestos activities, it is important to ensure to comply with all pertinent requirements as both agencies actively enforce their asbestos regulations. In areas where the requirements overlap, you must comply with the more stringent standard.

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1 thought on “EPA, OSHA: Which Asbestos Regs Apply to Us?”

  1. Great post on the dilemma’s encountered due to multi-agency involvement, which highlights the importance of a solid compliance training program built on compliance fundamentals and backed-up with ongoing training for all employees – as well as a strategic plan to ensure business owners are in compliance with the regulations pertaining specifically to their business and industry.

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