Washington Asbestos Regulations

Not too long ago, virtually all buildings used materials that contained a fibrous mineral called asbestos for its fire-resistant properties. The mineral is naturally occurring, versatile, and relatively cheap. But in the early 1980s, its severe health risks were confirmed -- inhalation of the fibers can cause cancer, among other illnesses -- and use of the mineral came to a halt. But even though it hasn't been added to new products for decades, it continues to hide in old buildings, shipyards, manufacturing plants, and other areas where it was once used. It's usually not a problem if left undisturbed, but typically becomes airborne when older buildings are renovated or demolished.

That is why Washington and other states have enacted strict regulations for the removal of asbestos and construction or demolition projects where asbestos may be exposed. Below is a summary of these regulations.

Washington Asbestos Regulations at a Glance

Statutes and Codes
Asbestos Regulatory Agencies

Federal:

Washington:

Asbestos Removal Regulations

Building Owners:

  • Before construction, renovation, or demolition activities, building owners are required to inspect their buildings (those constructed before 1981) and provide a written report detailing any asbestos-containing materials.
  • Any materials presumed or suspected to have asbestos material must be assessed by an accredited AHERA Building Inspector.
  • Inspection only needs to cover materials expected to be contacted or disturbed during the project.

Construction Contractors:

  • Contractors must obtain a written asbestos report from the building owner (discussed above) prior to bidding or starting any work.
  • Asbestos report must be provided to any sub-contractors involved in the project as well.
  • Any employees on the job site must be notified about any asbestos materials that they may come into contact with.
  • Make sure a Certified Asbestos Contractor handles any asbestos materials that need to be removed or disturbed.

Asbestos Abatement (Removal) Contractors:

  • Must be certified.
  • Must notify L&I at least 10 days prior to starting an asbestos removal project.

Homeowners:

  • As a homeowner, you are exempt from the asbestos survey requirements only if the work is done on your own residence and done yourself.
  • Asbestos-removal regulations do apply if your residence is used for commercial purposes, such as a rental, or home office, or you bring in a contractor, other workers, or volunteers, to do work that disturbs asbestos containing materials.
Penalties for Noncompliance
  • Failure to obtain an asbestos report prior to construction work can result in a minimum fine of $250 per day, which may be applied to both the contractor and building owner.
  • Exposure of workers to airborne asbestos may result in additional fines.
  • Contact L&I to report any unsafe working conditions.

Note: State regulations are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Washington Asbestos Regulations: Related Resources

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Whether you're homeowner, general contractor, or certified asbestos removal contractor, there are important regulations put in place to protect you, workers, and the general public. If you believe you have been exposed to asbestos or have an asbestos-related illness, you may be able to file a claim for your injuries. Have a local attorney evaluate your asbestos claim at no charge.

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