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California Asbestos Certification

What is Asbestos Certification in California

Asbestos is a mineral resource made of flexible fibers that can withstand heat, electricity, and corrosion. It is widely utilized in construction, manufacturing, mining, and food processing in California. It is also used for soundproofing and is an effective fireproof. Asbestos fibers are used to make floor and ceiling tiles, acoustical plaster, pipe insulation, and other materials used in constructing old buildings. However, asbestos exposure is toxic as it can cause cancer and other life-threatening health conditions. An example of such a disease is Mesothelioma, a particularly lethal form of cancer caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos fiber. Asbestos also causes a progressive lung disease called asbestosis. Asbestos fibers can cause scarring inflammation and eventually lead to genetic damage.

Although asbestos use has reduced over time following the discovery of the related health hazards, the mineral remains in many old buildings, mining sites, and several places throughout the United States. To this end, both state and federal governments regulate the use, management, and removal of asbestos-containing materials. California is one of the states with a significant amount of naturally occurring asbestos. Hence, persons who develop symptoms of Mesothelioma in California may be eligible for financial compensation or claim, depending on the nature of their infection.

California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), otherwise known as Cal/OSHA, regulates the standards for asbestos-related activities in construction, shipyard/maritime, and general industry. According to the California Business and Professions Code (Sec. 7058.5), persons engaging in asbestos-related activity (usually no less than 100 square feet of the surface area of asbestos-containing materials) must be trained and certified in line with the requirements of the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA). The AHERA regulation was developed in 1986 to protect individuals, especially students and staff of schools, from being exposed to asbestos. Based on the provision of this act, building owners suspected of having asbestos-containing materials on their site are required to inspect to confirm the presence of asbestos fiber on their site and, if necessary, prepare a plan to prevent or reduce exposure to asbestos fiber. To become certified, interested individuals must undergo training in relevant AHERA courses and apply for a qualifying exam before being issued an asbestos certification. The Division of Occupational Safety and Health works with accredited training institutes to issue asbestos certifications to professionals in California.

How to Get California Asbestos Certification?

There are two categories of asbestos certifications issued to professionals in California. These are – Certified Asbestos Consultants and Certified Site Surveillance Technicians. An Asbestos Consultant is responsible for carrying out a building inspection, managing abatement project design, and overseeing the abatement project entirely. Meanwhile, the site surveillance technician, on the other hand, works as an on-site representative of the consultant. Though certified to work in asbestos restricted areas or projects involving ACM, the technician works under a consultant. Before a person can obtain any of these certifications, they must garner experience working in any of the following disciplines:

  • Worker: Carrying out various asbestos abatement projects but supervised by a certified supervisor.
  • Supervisor: Managing asbestos workers and guarantees safe abatement.
  • Project Manager: Creating project plans for asbestos abatement jobs.
  • Inspector: Carrying out inspections (physical assessment of the site) to determine the condition and presence of asbestos materials.
  • Management Planner: Drawing up the plans and recommendations for asbestos removal.

Each discipline has unique requirements that must be met before applying for the certification in a state-certified training facility. For instance, inspectors, management planners, and project managers may need a diploma or degree and some years of experience. Interested professionals must enroll in the relevant training course with a CAL/OSHA-approved trainer for their preferred discipline. At the end of the training, candidates will have to sit for the exam and obtain a minimum score of 70% to pass. Candidates may apply for an asbestos certification after completing the training course and passing the exam (Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations).

Persons interested in obtaining the application form may visit any local Cal/OSHA District office or download the form online. Applications are to be filled out and mailed to the:

Division of Occupational Safety and Health
P.O. Box 420603
San Francisco, CA 94142

A non-refundable fee of $125 is required to process the application. The fee must be enclosed in the application form with other application requirements – passports, a copy of training course certificates, employment information, education history, and any enforcement actions issued against the applicant. For more information, interested professionals may visit the CAL/OSHA asbestos contractors' registration unit (ACRU) or login to the division's website.

What Do Asbestos Inspectors Do in California?

An asbestos inspector is an individual who is trained and certified in line with the state provisions to inspect a home or building for asbestos-containing material (material containing at least 1% asbestos).

In California, before a building suspected of having ACM is demolished or renovated, an on-site evaluation must be done by a certified asbestos inspection professional.

Essentially, the inspector is responsible for thoroughly identifying and assessing the material suspected of containing asbestos. The inspection usually covers physical assessments and the collection of samples of suspected materials for testing. After conducting the test, the inspector presents the building owner with a thorough written report of the laboratory results and recommends how to correct or control the asbestos material. If the material is in good condition, there will be no need for an evacuation. However, if the inspector recommends the removal of asbestos materials, the individual can ensure the contractor assigned to carry out the removal follows proper procedures during the clean-up.

The inspector may also monitor the process to ensure that asbestos fibers are not released into the air during the removal.

According to the California Labor Code provisions, a professional must be a Certified Asbestos Consultant (CAC) or Certified Site Surveillance Technician (CSST) working under a CAC to become an asbestos inspector.

How to Become an Asbestos Surveyor in California?

A California asbestos surveyor performs the same function as the building inspector. The surveyor assesses building structures to ascertain the presence of ACM and prepares reports about your findings, and oversees the removal of asbestos and other hazardous materials.

To become an asbestos surveyor in California, one must be licensed as a Certified Asbestos Consultant (CAC) or a Certified Site Surveillance Technician (CSST). Before an individual can become a CAC, the individual must have been completed training in the following AHERA courses:

  • Initial Management Planner
  • Abatement Project Designer
  • Abatement Contractor/Supervisor
  • Building Inspector

Similarly, interested individuals are expected to have any of the following experience requirements:

  • One year of asbestos-related experience with a relevant bachelor's degree
  • Two years of asbestos-related experience with any bachelor's degree
  • Three years of asbestos-related experience with a relevant associate degree
  • Four years of asbestos-related experience with a high school diploma

However, where the professional does not have a CAC, the CSST certification can suffice.

The site surveillance technician serves as an on-the-site representative of an asbestos consultant but is also legally authorized courtesy of the certification to carry out an asbestos inspection on behalf of the consultant. The certifications are needed to ascertain the capacity of the persons taking the survey. To become a CSST, one must complete the training course for the initial building inspector and abatement contractor/supervisor.

Online Asbestos Certification in California

The California and the United States Environmental Protection Agency requires persons involved in asbestos projects to complete asbestos training courses in the relevant disciplines in which they function before sitting for the CAC or CSST certification examination.

Professionals in each of these disciplines are expected to, at the very least, complete the beginner courses to obtain the certification. The content and duration for each course per discipline are specified in the AHERA Model Accreditation Plan (MAP). Also, in line with the AHERA requirements, Cal/OSHA approves training providers who offer physical and online courses in the various disciplines. Online courses allow individuals to learn and obtain the training certifications at their own pace. For more information on the approved training providers, individuals should visit the Asbestos and Carcinogen Unit web page on the website of the California Department of Industrial Relations. After obtaining all the required training certifications and meeting the experience requirements, an individual may apply for the CAC or CSST certification with CAL/OSHA.

How Long are Asbestos Certificates Valid for in California?

In California, asbestos Certifications are valid for one year. Individuals can find the expiration date on the front section of the certificate.

Asbestos Certificate Renewal in California

In California, asbestos certifications are renewed annually. Before professionals can apply for a renewal, they must take an AHERA refresher course in line with their respective disciplines. The certificate will not be renewed if an individual fails to complete the renewal requirements before the certification expires. They will have to retake and pass the qualifying exam to regain their certified consultant or site surveillance technician status.

To request a renewal, individuals must obtain and complete a renewal request form which will be submitted to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health's Asbestos Consultant Certification Unit along with the specified attachments (the renewal fee, photos/passport photographs, respiratory protection declination form 5144, and current AHERA certificates).

The renewal request must be submitted at least sixty days before the certification expires.