Machining Unidentified Material Results in Potential Asbestos Exposure
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Type:  Lessons Learned

Publisher:  Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM (LANL)

Published As:  Public

Date: 

Topics:  Occupational Safety and Health, Operations, Property Management, Waste Management, Material Handling/Storage

A machinist was fabricating spacers out of 1/8-inch thick gasket material. The equipment used included a band saw, a one sided razor blade, and a belt sander. After fabricating two spacers from unmarked remnants, the machinist sought additional material to fabricate the rest. A larger sheet of the same material was found in the shop. When the machinist turned it over, he found "Asbestos" markings on the other side. The machinist immediately stopped all work, shut down the air and heating systems, and called his supervisor. The area was secured with caution tape, labeled "Asbestos Do Not Enter" and subsequently cleaned to remove asbestos contamination.

The remnant material was not appropriately identified and labeled as asbestos, and the machinist fabricated the spacers without knowing the content of the material. The full sheet of additional stock material was water marked by the manufacturer and was identified as containing asbestos.

Lessons Learned: Verify the material you intend to work with before starting work. This includes making sure that it is allowed to be in the area and subject to the planned processing. If there is any uncertainty, pause work and consult with the appropriate authorities until certainty is established and the proper controls are in place.

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