Coastal Asbestos are proud winners of the Master Builders Award for 2020 Excellence in Workplace Health & Safety Award

Coastal Asbestos are proud winners of the Master Builders Award for 2020 Excellence in Workplace Health & Safety Award

Working with explosive gases, sulphuric acid, asbestos and working at heights, 14 metres down a sewage well, that has one million litres of raw sewage pumped through it a day. This doesn’t sound like any other day at work, and I believe it wasn’t, however it was one of the most rewarding days at work we had had for a long time, and it is how we won a Master Builders Queensland Gold Coast Region Excellence in Workplace Health & Safety 2020, and this is the story.

It started just like any other job. We had a call at the office to ask if we would quote a project to remove some asbestos pipes from a pump station. We had no idea we were in for a 3 month saga that would end 18 months later in an award for Excellence in Workplace Health and Safety! It is not the biggest job we have ever done but it is by far the most complex job we have ever done.

Stick with me while I try to paint a picture for you.

The scope was to remove 60 metres of asbestos vent pipe that was four hundred and fifty millimetres wide and weighed twenty five kilograms a metre in total, fifteen hundred kilos from an underground sewage well, fourteen metres underground without contaminating the facility with asbestos fibres and allowing twenty four hours a day, seven days a week access for Gold Coast Council maintenance staff, just in case the pumps failed and sewage filled the streets.

The High-risk activities we had to manage were Friable and Non-Friable asbestos, work at heights, rope access work, work in confined spaces, working with explosive gases and working with acids. We were confident we had put the right team together and with months of meticulous planning, specialist training and purchasing specialty equipment, we were good to go!

The pump station itself was just a small non-descript brick building from the street. A building most people just walked past and gave no thought until the Deodoriser failed and there was a sour smell of sewage in the air. Inside the front door was like Dr Who’s Tardis. The steel gantry flooring covered the fourteen-meter-deep sewer well. The place was huge and it had a huge problem we were tasked with repairing.

The big day had come and stage one of the job was the smallest and highest risk. All we had to do was remove one metre of pipe, simple. That ‘simple’ one metre of pipe went from inside the wet well straight into the old Deodoriser ‘simple’. That one metre of pipe was the subject of so many meetings and discussions I could do it in my sleep. We assembled the team- the mood on site that day was tense and we had 5 representatives from Gold Coast Council on site scrutinising our every move.

There were two teams – the A class guys who were to build an enclosure to remove the pipe because it was deemed friable and the rescue team that were there on standby if the first team got in any trouble or needed anything during setup. Both teams assembled all their equipment and tools. We had been supplied with a “pipe blocker” that was going to be used to stop deadly explosive Hydrogen Sulphide gas from entering the workplace and no asbestos pipe was dropped into the well blocking the pumps and causing the streets to fill with sewage once the first section of pipe we removed, so that work could continue.

As soon as I opened the case on the “pipe blocker” I knew it wasn’t going to work. My heart sunk. The pipe blocker had been supplied by engineers that guaranteed it was the only tool for the job but as it turns out it was the only one, they could think of and it was no good. We had ten people onsite all eager for this job to be finished. The air was so tense you could cut it with a knife and I had no option other than to put my hand up and let everybody know we were going to be delayed until we had a resolution. I have always considered myself a big game player and when things got tough, I always had the ability to focus and get through. Today I would call on all of my experience and ingenuity. Today was game day and there was not going to be a reschedule if I had anything to do with it. The Council delegate and I were very clear, we were not proceeding unless we could work safe.  This was not negotiable, the clock was ticking and the pressure was on.

I have no idea where I got the idea from, but it looks like twenty-five years in the building industry, a vivid imagination and a few series of MacGyver had paid off. The solution was two meters of poly pipe, a hand pump, an irrigation connector barb, some netting, and a yoga ball or what we called a pneumatic pipe baffle. First, I had to sell the idea to the council delegate, then source the materials and build and test it in one hour. No pressure!

It was one of the most stressful and challenging shopping trips ever. The first shop I tried had run out of yoga balls and it took three other stops to get all the gear and a few spares just in case. We went through the assembly and testing onsite and just before we started I was handed a two hundred and fifty thousand dollar disclaimer to sign giving them permission to get the liquid waste trucks here if the pumps were damaged, to stop sewage from flowing into the streets. No pressure!

To set the scene, we harnessed up and attached a life-line, explosive gas detector and fitted the breathing apparatus connected to air tanks to the removal technicians. They lowered the yoga ball down the pipe filled it with air, crimped the hose then pulled on the netting pulling the yoga ball tight against the open end of the pipe in the raw sewage well blocking off the gases and creating a seal then tied it off. There were a few tense seconds when the alarm went off on the air bottles to indicate they were getting low. At first people thought it was the explosive gas monitor and the rescue team was getting ready to retrieve the asbestos removal crew but I knew it was the wrong alarm and calmly turned to the council head of safety and asked “is that one of yours?” He replied “No, is that one of yours?” You could have cut the air with a knife. It was the Friday before Father’s Day.  I looked at the council delegates and announced “I’ve got this nobody’s Father’s Day weekend is going to be ruined.”

The yoga ball performed brilliantly. It was perfect for the job and everybody went home safe and sound. I didn’t have to spend twenty-five thousand on sewage pumping and the one metre of pipe was safely removed. We won the award for an innovation in safety because we had created a totally new process and invented a totally new product. We had no idea when we entered the awards that our, on the fly MacGyver yoga ball inspired pneumatic pipe baffle was a winning idea. All we wanted was to keep people safe.

The rest of the job went without a hitch. We employed a few rope access technicians to hang from the ceiling and lower themselves down the well and resize the pipe into two-meter sections which we winched up and disposed of and the roof sections were resized and lowered down for transport.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

We are absolutely over the moon to announce that we have won our first award in recognition all the hard work we have all put in to make Coastal Asbestos the very best asbestos removal business in South East Queensland. The Gold Coast Business excellence award category we won was for best emerging business for September 2019 putting us inline for the Business of the year for our category and the overall business of the year.

The Gold Coast Business Excellence Awards launched in 1996 and in 2019 this year are celebrating our 24th year. During this time the Awards have grown to be recognised as the region’s most comprehensive and prestigious business awards scheme, offering specific and meaningful benefits to the wider Gold Coast business community.

The esteemed judging panel of has members from Griffith University, KPMG, Local Government Bond University and local business leaders. Other notable recipients include Terry Morris (Sirromet Wines ), Keith Williams (SeaWorld, Hamilton island developer ), John Longhurst ( Dreamworld), Gordon Merchant ( Billabong )

For the last 5 years we have set out to build the best asbestos removal company in South East Queensland and last week we got a little closer to achieving this. We have worked really hard to build systems into the business our mantra has been “ We are building the best asbestos removal business in Queensland “ A bold statement I know but it is the standard we are holding our selves to because nothing else is acceptable. The team has grown from just one person working part-time to a full team of 12 and growing all the time. It’s really rewarding for the whole team to get the recognition for all the behind the scenes work that goes on.

In the last 18 months, we have moved into our centrally located office in Bundall so we could have a place to grow our admin and managerial team. To give us a base for ongoing training and development. It has been a huge success for us allowing us to have the space to grow in a professional environment, while most of our competition is still working from home we have taken the next step to be able to deliver the very best for our clients and to have a central place for all of our staff to meet to improve the business .

Its not just the admin side that helps you win awards you have to be able to perform at a high level in the field our biggest project to date 230000 cubic meters of asbestos impacted soil remediation for the Instrument Landing System at Gold Coast Airport and the very technical asbestos pipe removal from a live sewage pump station for Gold Coast City Council were standouts both jobs took months in the planning so that we could deliver a safe, compliant project for our clients that was on time and budget . Its what we have become known for the tough and difficult jobs.

We look forward to keeping you updated with our success and really want to thank all staff and our customers for supporting our business so it can grow and become a household name on the Gold Coast.

Asbestos eave removal what to expect on the day

Asbestos eave removal what to expect on the day

Asbestos sheeting used in eaves linings is one place you can just about guarantee is in every single one of the homes built before its ban in Australia . Its one of the things that is a standard part of homes still built today although the asbestos has been removed from concrete sheeting ,the modern alternative is still the go to product for nearly all builders in Australia .

Over the years there have been a few different patterns in asbestos containing eaves sheets most notably the diamond shape hole pattern and the slotted eave sheet both designed the vent the eaves on a home . You may see new slotted sheets but the diamond pattern is almost always asbestos containing .Our team of asbestos removal experts can keep your family safe while performing asbestos eaves removal on your home.

So what should you expect on the day when we remove the asbestos eaves on your home ?

  1. Firstly there is the notification to workplace health and safety this is done electronically prior to the commencement of work at your place .
  2. Once onsite we hold a site meeting to ensure everybody is aware of what is to be done and by whom and the daily safety paperwork is completed .
  3. Next step is to erect our signage and mark out the work area and inform the neighbours .
  4. Eaves can be a really dirty job just imagine how old your place is and how much dust there is in the ceiling space in your home . We get a lot of house dust when we remove eaves . Its not to confused with asbestos dust .
  5. Laying down drop sheets to catch any small pieces of sheeting is crucial to ensuring no asbestos fragments are left on site. We always use water sprays and best practices to remove all sheets complete where possible but ,extra precautions are always necessary when working in gardens small pieces can be difficult to detect in shrubs.
  6. We slowly work our way around the home removing any timber strips first to make the job safer and to keep the sheets whole .
  7. Once the sheeting is removed the timbers are denailed and cleaned down then given the once over with our hazard rate vac before an encapsulation spray is applied to bind any fibers.
  8. Like all jobs after we double check everything next we have it inspected and a clearance certificate is issued.
  9. It’s time for us to pack up our asbestos transport trailer double wrap everything in two layers of 200 um plastic and clearly labeled ready for transport to a registered waste facility.