Asbestos management

Information for employees on asbestos

Sometimes, employees have questions about asbestos. Why do we have asbestos in our buildings? What are the possible health effects of asbestos exposure? How are employees protected from asbestos exposure during building renovations? These questions are addressed at our Asbestos Information for Employees website.


The safe maintenance and handling of asbestos and asbestos containing material is important to protect the health of occupants, visitors and staff at University of Wisconsin System facilities. The information and resources linked here could be of use to campus staff professionals in the areas of environmental management, health and safety, and facilities management. There is also a group of pages designed to provide UW System employees with an overview of asbestos issues and abatement work that occurs during facility repairs or renovations.

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Glossary of asbestos management terminology 

Abatement — Asbestos abatement means any activity that disturbs asbestos−containing material. Some of the activities included are:  

  • repair, enclosure, encapsulation, or removal of asbestos−containing material 
  • repair, operation, service, maintenance, renovation or demolition of any part of a facility where ACM or suspect ACM is present.

Asbestos — The generic name used for a group of naturally occurring mineral silicate fibers of the serpentine and amphibole series, displaying similar physical characteristics although differing in composition. Wisconsin DHS defines it as "chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite, fibrous tremolite, fibrous actinolite or fibrous anthophyllite."

ACM — “ACM” or "Asbestos-containing material" means a material or product that contains more than 1% of asbestos.

Class — The OSHA asbestos construction standard establishes a classification system for asbestos construction work that spells out mandatory, simple, technological work practices that employers must follow to reduce worker exposures. Under this system, the following four classes of construction work are matched with increasingly stringent control requirements.

  • Class I asbestos work is the most potentially hazardous class of asbestos jobs. This work involves the removal of asbestos-containing thermal system insulation and sprayed-on or troweled-on surfacing materials. Employers must presume that thermal system insulation and surfacing material found in pre-1981 construction is ACM. That presumption, however, is rebuttable. If you believe that the surfacing material or thermal system insulation is not ACM, the OSHA standard specifies the means that you must use to rebut that presumption. Thermal system insulation includes ACM applied to pipes, boilers, tanks, ducts, or other structural components to prevent heat loss or gain. Surfacing materials include decorative plaster on ceilings and walls; acoustical materials on decking, walls, and ceilings; and fireproofing on structural members.
  • Class II work includes the removal of other types of ACM that are not thermal system insulation such as resilient flooring and roofing materials. Examples of Class II work include removal of asbestos-containing floor or ceiling tiles, siding, roofing, or transite panels.
  • Class III asbestos work includes repair and maintenance operations where ACM or presumed ACM (PACM) are disturbed.
  • Class IV work includes custodial activities where employees clean up asbestos-containing waste and debris produced by construction, maintenance, or repair activities. This work involves cleaning dust-contaminated surfaces, vacuuming contaminated carpets, mopping floors, and cleaning up ACM or PACM from thermal system insulation or surfacing material.

Friable asbestos−containing material — Asbestos−containing material that, when dry, can be crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder by hand pressure, including previously non−friable asbestos−containing material when that material is damaged to the extent that when dry it may be crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder by hand pressure.

PACM — Acronym for "Presumed Asbestos Containing Material." PACM is defined as thermal system insulation and surfacing material found in buildings constructed no later than 1980.Occupant protection plan — Applies to buildings on which an asbestos abatement is being conducted, and the building is occupied or furnished. The occupant protection plan is a written document posted in plain sight outside each regulated area by the asbestos company performing the abatement. It describes how occupants and furnishings will be protected from exposure to asbestos fibers during the abatement. These plans are part of the requirement placed upon the asbestos company to be responsible for the protection of the health of building occupants, visitors and workers, and is enforced by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Asbestos abatement

PEL — Acronym for permissible exposure limits. PELs are regulatory limits (set and enforced through OSHA regulation) on the amount or concentration of a substance in the air to protect workers against the health effects of exposure to hazardous substances. PELs are based on an 8-hour time weighted average (TWA) exposure. The PEL for asbestos (both general industry and construction) is 0.1 fiber per cubic centimeter of air as an eight (8) hour time-weighted average (TWA).

Regulated area —  The area where an asbestos abatement activity is conducted, and adjoining areas where debris and waste from the asbestos abatement activity accumulate.

Suspect ACM — A non-regulatory term used by the asbestos industry to refer to any building material that is suspected of being asbestos-containing (based on appearance, usage, age of building, etc.), but has not been proven conclusively to be ACM. 

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Asbestos management programs

Because of the many regulatory requirements and the widespread nature of the materials within UW System facilities, campuses must know how to maintain and handle asbestos containing material.  While campuses have flexibility in how regulatory requirements are met, in general, the UW System campuses utilize specialty abatement companies for medium and large abatement projects. Many campuses elect to contract out all abatement work, including small scope and "glove bag" work. The decisions each campus makes about how to manage in-place asbestos affects the level of training and how many employees need it. 


Examples of asbestos management program material from colleges and universities

  • UW-Milwaukee — Main webpage for their asbestos management program. Many useful resources, including Wisconsin-specific information.
  • Robert Morris University — A university asbestos management policy for employees conducting Class IV work only.
  • University of Rochester — Guidance procedure for handling an accidental disturbance of ACM.

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Training requirements for asbestos abatement workers are as follows:

  1. Class I — Equivalent to EPA Model Accreditation Plan (MAP) asbestos abatement workers course
  2. Class II — Equivalent to MAP course if critical barriers required; otherwise, train on specific work practices and engineering controls that must be used
  3. Class III — Equivalent to AHERA course for maintenance and custodial staff
  4. Class IV — Equivalent to AHERA course for maintenance and custodial staff

Also, anyone taking a sample of material (excluding air sampling) for asbestos testing must be an asbestos inspector. Asbestos inspectors must complete a separate course of training as set out by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS).

Training providers

Asbestos Accredited Asbestos Training Providers -- This is a listing of asbestos training companies approved by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) to offer accredited asbestos training courses for persons seeking certification to conduct regulated, asbestos-related activities in Wisconsin.

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Asbestos Storage, Transport and Disposal (2002)— This Department of Natural Resources (DNR) guidance summarizes Wisconsin’s solid waste rules related to asbestos waste storage, transport and disposal.

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Asbestos management and abatement activity is regulated by a web of rules enforced by a number of agencies. This is a listing of the major regulatory requirements that pertain to these activities.


WACWisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS)

DHS regulates certain aspects of asbestos abatement activity in Wisconsin, including certification, training, recordkeeping, project notification, project logs, occupant protection plans


Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

The main regulation that pertains to campus building abatement activity is:

  • Chapter NR 447 — DNR regulations for control of asbestos emissions

Regulations covering disposal of asbestos waste material include the following (for more information, see Asbestos Storage, Transport and Disposal):

 Other information on asbestos management from WDNR



29 CFRGeneral industry regulations

  • 1910.1001, Asbestos
    • Appendix A, OSHA reference method - Mandatory
    • Appendix B, Detailed procedure for asbestos sampling and analysis - Non-mandatory
    • Appendix C, Qualitative and quantitative fit testing procedures - Mandatory
    • Appendix D, Medical questionnaires; Mandatory
    • Appendix E, Interpretation and classification of chest roentgenograms - Mandatory
    • Appendix F, Work practices and engineering controls for automotive brake and clutch inspection, disassembly, repair and assembly - Mandatory
    • Appendix G, Substance technical information for asbestos - Non-mandatory
    • Appendix H, Medical surveillance guidelines for asbestos - Non-mandatory
    • Appendix I, Smoking cessation program information For asbestos - Non-mandatory
    • Appendix J, Polarized light microscopy of asbestos - Non-mandatory [Also see: Polarized Light Microscopy of Asbestos. OSHA Method ID-191, (1992, December).]

 Construction regulations

  • 1926.1101, Asbestos (Construction)
    • Appendix A, OSHA reference method - Mandatory
    • Appendix B, Sampling and analysis - Non-mandatory
    • Appendix C, Qualitative and quantitative fit testing procedures - Mandatory
    • Appendix D, Medical questionnaires; Mandatory
    • Appendix E, Interpretation and classification of chest roentgenograms - Mandatory
    • Appendix F, Work practices and engineering controls for class I asbestos operations - Non-mandatory
    • Appendix G, [Reserved]
    • Appendix H, Substance technical information for asbestos - Non-mandatory
    • Appendix I, Medical surveillance guidelines for asbestos, non-mandatory
    • Appendix J, Smoking cessation program information for asbestos, Non-mandatory
    • Appendix K, Polarized light microscopy of asbestos - Non-mandatory


Other information from OSHA: Interpretation, directives, other resources


Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services

The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) adopted OSHA’s asbestos standards for both general industry and construction as the rule for public employees in Wisconsin. No modifications or amendments were adopted.

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Competent person

On asbestos abatement jobsites, the company performing the abatement work must designate a competent person — one who can identify asbestos hazards in the workplace and has the authority to promptly correct them. This person must be qualified and authorized to ensure worker safety and health, and must frequently inspect job sites, materials, and equipment.

The competent person must attend a comprehensive training course for contractors and supervisors certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or a state approved training provider, or a complete a course that is equivalent in length and content. For Class III and IV asbestos work, training must include a course equivalent in length, stringency, and content to the 16-hour Operations and Maintenance course developed by EPA for maintenance and custodial workers. For more specific information, see 40 CFR Part 763.92(a)(2).

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Reference material, files, and websites

Reference material for this webpage

Last updated: May 9, 2013


This publication was prepared for environmental, health and safety staff at University of Wisconsin System campuses, to assist in finding resources and information for regulatory compliance. It is not intended to render legal advice.
(Read full legal disclaimer.)