Working Carefully Around VAT Floors
A reader writes: “I am the property manager of an older building that has a few thousand square feet of vinyl asbestos tile (VAT). I am having difficulty with the floor techs who claim they cannot buff or give it a high shine. Your comments are welcome.”
It appears that the VAT is older than you or the floor techs working on it. Although we all want to get the most life out of an investment such as flooring, there is a time to let go and move on. I noted that you went through an asbestos remediation for all the insulated pipes in this account a few years ago. It is now time to consider the same for the floors. Like any floor, VAT has a limited useful life. I believe that your attempts to patch and repair it is only putting off the inevitable. Be very careful in providing directions to the floor crew since it could possibly expose you and your company to liability if there are any asbestos related claims.
I highly recommend you go to www.osha.gov for guidance on how to maintain the floor until it is replaced. Make sure that you are NOT trying to dry buff or burnish this floor since it may be difficult to prove to OSHA that you had sufficient coats on the floor to maintain it other than sweeping/dust mopping and damp mopping. Using the Stop Light system could help document that there are sufficient coats on the floor but this may not be acceptable to OSHA. Please investigate before proceeding. You must follow very clear guidance on any stripping which includes the types of pads (no black or brown or screens) as well as how you dispose of the slurry. Expect to pay extra for this extraordinary service since it should not be equated to maintaining VCT, terrazzo or other hard floors.
Asbestos flooring has been determined to be dangerous to the public. Please abide by the OSHA guidelines and replace it as soon as possible to put this issue behind you.
Your comments and feedback are always appreciated. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...
Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.