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What is the difference between on-site and controlled environment testing of h-type vacuum cleaners and negative pressure units (NPUs)?

What is the difference between on-site and controlled environment testing of h-type vacuum cleaners and negative pressure units (NPUs)?

What is the difference between on-site and controlled environment testing of h-type vacuum cleaners and negative pressure units (NPUs)?

There are two options when choosing to service and decontaminate H-type vacuums and negative pressure units (NPUs), this is on-site or in a controlled environment at the servicing company’s facilities. The final decision is a personal preference. However, before choosing there are some key safety factors for decontaminating and servicing these products with a specialist company and within a controlled environment.

Important notice:  Servicing products used for licensed asbestos work is a regal requirement and needs to be carried out every 6 months.  More routine decontaminations should be done at the end of every project.

What are the benefits of using a controlled environment for servicing and decontamination?

Both pieces of equipment should be handled carefully after use and prior to being decontaminated. H-type vacuum cleaners should be wiped over and the hose removed before being bagged up.  The pre-filter in an NPU should be replaced and fitted with a transit plate.  These measures are in place to prevent any particles that are on the equipment or in the filters from being released into the air or ending up on other surfaces which could potentially expose people who are not protected. With this in mind, any equipment used on projects involving hazardous materials should be kept in a controlled environment for decontamination to ensure that asbestos particles do not spread.  Particles that become airborne put people in close vicinity at risk of secondary exposure.

Safety should be a priority when working with hazardous materials such as asbestos.  Using a purpose-built enclosure to service and decontaminate products reduces the risk of exposure and other people that they come into close contact with being put at risk of latent exposure.

This also allows for a more thorough service, decontamination, and maintenance check to be done when the equipment can be broken down properly and examined. Checking things such as the HEPA filters when they go through the wetroom ensures the product is performing at an optimum level.


Risks when testing equipment on-site?

Ensuring products are handled with care is paramount after working with hazardous materials. Carrying out testing of products on-site when there is no guarantee on how well they have been decontaminated after a project puts teams at a higher risk of exposure. There are further risks of exposing the wider area and teams if asbestos particles in used HEPA filters get blown around the surrounding area.  

At a bare minimum, the equipment should be wiped down, filters, and bags removed and disposed of when no longer needed. Unfortunately, this does not always happen which means unbagging equipment outside of a controlled environment creates a higher risk of wider exposure or contamination.

At what frequency should h class vacuum cleaners and negative pressure units go through decontamination?

All H class vacuum cleaners and negative pressure units (NPUs) used for licensed asbestos removal should have basic decontamination at the end of a project. This is:

  • Wiping down the units at the end of the project
  • Removing the internal bag of an h type vacuum cleaner and bagging it up
  • The hose removed from the h class vacuum and bagged
  • The removal of the pre-filter on the negative pressure unit and then bagged
  • A transit plate inserted to replace the pre-filter and protect the HEPA filter

This basic decontamination needs to be carried out if the equipment is going to be used again on other projects. With regards to h-type vacuum cleaners, they should remain bagged up until a fully decontaminated. A NPUs must have a new pre-filter inserted before it is safe to store

Maintaining asbestos equipment is crucial to ensure it continues to perform effectively and is safe for workers on site. It is also important that legal requirements and advisories are adhered to, to mitigate potential risks.

How to prepare an h-class vacuum cleaner for final decontamination?

Once a project is completed the h-class vacuum should have basic decontamination. A fresh bag should be inserted. The hose must be detached and bagged separately. This process should be done while still in the enclosure.

How to prepare a negative pressure unit for decontamination?

Like the h-class vacuum cleaner, a basic decontamination should be carried out. It is important that the HEPA filter is only removed in a controlled environment by a specialised company when going through final decontamination.

How often should asbestos removal equipment be serviced?

Servicing and DOP testing is a legal requirement and should be carried out every 6 months.  The frequency of use does not impact this time scale, however, if products have higher usage levels they may need to be checked more regularly.  This is to ensure the HEPA filters are not getting blocked.  A key sign of the HEPA filter getting becoming blocked is the reduction in suction on a vacuum and the lack of airflow on an NPU. When a HEPA filter does become blocked it can be subject to extreme pressure and at in danger of exploding, which allows particles to get through and make it no longer safe to use.

Finally, is a controlled environment needed when servicing and decontaminating H-type vacuums and negative pressure units (NPUs)?

Maintaining equipment such as h-type vacuums and negative pressure units (NPUs) is an essential part of ensuring they remain safe to use. At times it is easy to be deterred by an initial cost however, gaining an understanding of the benefits and services this includes, the safety how this could impact the lifespan of products could soon outweigh a cheaper or quicker alternative.

At Beacon Safety duty of care, quality and service are paramount. We pride ourselves on the levels of service we provide to ensure the equipment that we work on is clean and safe to use. To discuss your servicing and decontamination needs in more detail, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local depot, where the team will be happy to help you further.

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