Frequently Asked Questions

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Should H-type vacuums and negative pressure units (NPUs) be serviced and decontaminated on-site or in a controlled environment?

Servicing and decontaminating of H-type vacuums and negative pressure units (NPUs) can be carried out at a customer’s site or at the servicing companies own facilities. This is a personal preference. However, there are some key safety factors for decontaminating and servicing these products at a specialist facility within a controlled environment.

It is important to note that servicing and decontamination of both products when you used for licensed asbestos work is a legal requirement. Servicing needs to be carried out every 6 months. General decontamination should be carried out after every project is completed.

Why use a controlled environment for servicing and decontamination?

Both products need to be handled with care after use and before being properly decontaminated.  H-class vacuums need to be wiped clean, hose removed and bagged.  NPU’s should have the pre-filter replaced and the transit plate attached. This is to prevent particles on the equipment or in the filters being released into the air or ending up on other surfaces where people are not properly protected.  With this in mind, all equipment used when working with hazardous materials should ideally be in a controlled environment when decontaminating to ensure no asbestos particles spread. Airborne particles put people in close proximity at risk of latent exposure.

Safety when working with hazardous materials such as asbestos is a priority. Carrying out servicing and decontamination in a purpose-built enclosure ensures teams are not at risk of being exposed and people that they are in close contact with are not at risk of secondary exposure.

Also, a more thorough service, maintenance check, and decontamination can be carried out when the time is taken on each product where it can be properly broken down and inspected. This includes visually inspecting the HEPA filters when they go through a wetroom to ensure the equipment is performing at an optimum level.

Hazards of on-site testing?

As referenced above, all products need to be handled with care and precautions taken following use with hazardous materials. Doing this on-site when there is no guarantee on the level of basic decontamination at the end of a project puts teams at greater risk of exposure. There is also a risk of asbestos particles being blown around the surrounding area when being tested, increasing the chances of latent exposure to others.

This basic cleaning process requires wiping down equipment, filters, and bags being removed and disposed of. Unfortunately, this is not always the case which means unbagging outside creates a higher risk of wider contamination.

How often should h class vacuum cleaners and negative pressure units be decontaminated?

Both h class vacuum cleaners and NPUs used for licensed asbestos removal work should receive essential decontamination after every project. This means they should be:

  • Wiped down at the end of use
  • On an h-class vacuum, the internal bag is removed and bagged.
  • The h-class vacuum hose should be removed, wiped down and bagged separately.
  • The pre-filter on the negative pressure unit should be removed and bagged.
  • A transit plate inserted in the place of the pre-filter to protect the used HEPA filter.

This is the routine cleaning that needs to be done if they are going to be used on other projects. In the case of the vacuum cleaners, they must still be stored in their bags unless full decontamination has been carried out. NPUs should have a fresh pre-filter installed before it is safe to store

Maintaining asbestos plant is important for ensuring the products work effectively and remain safe for operatives on site. There are legal requirements and advisories in place to mitigate potential risks and should be adhered to.

How should h-class vacuum cleaners be prepared for final decontamination?

At the end of a project, the h-class vacuum should be wiped down and the internal bag removed and bagged for disposal. A new clean bag should then be fitted. The hose should be detached and bagged separately. All of this should be carried out within the enclosure.

How should a negative pressure unit be prepared for cleaning? 

The pre-filter should be removed and bagged, a transit plate attached and a fresh pre-filter is inserted, which protects the HEPA filter and helps prevent particles from escaping and risking secondary exposure. The HEPA filter should only be removed in a controlled environment by a specialised company carrying out a full clean and decontamination.

How often should h type vacuums and negative pressure units be serviced?

It is a legal requirement to service and DOP test h-class vacuums and negative pressure units every 6 months. Low usage levels do not impact this frequency and will mean that they still need to be serviced twice a year.  If products have a higher usage level, it may be worth checking this more frequently to ensure that the HEPA filters are not getting blocked.  A key indicator of a blocked filter on vacuums can be the reduction in suction and on an NPU the lack of airflow.  If a HEPA filter becomes blocked it is then subject to extreme pressure and at risk of exploding, allowing particles through, making it no longer safe to use.

So, should H-type vacuums and negative pressure units (NPUs) be serviced and decontaminated on-site or in a controlled environment?

Servicing and decontaminating of H-type vacuums and negative pressure units (NPUs) is a key part of maintaining equipment. It can be easy in any situation to be deterred by an initial cost but understanding the level of service received, the safety, and what this could mean for the lifespan of equipment as well as its performance could well out weight a quicker alternative. Especially in industries working with hazardous materials such as asbestos, safety, and duty of care for all of those involved should be paramount.

At Beacon, safety, quality, and duty of care is a priority. We take great pride in the levels of service we offer to ensure all equipment that comes through us is clean and safe to use. If you would like to discuss your servicing and decontamination needs in more detail, please don’t hesitate to contact your local depot, where one of the team will be happy to help.

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