A decontamination procedure must be carried out whenever a person leaves an asbestos area, or when removal work is finished. Decontamination procedures must be carried out on:

  • the asbestos area
  • any tools used
  • any people involved in the asbestos work or present in the asbestos area.

Decontamination areas

As a part of the decontamination process, you need to set up specific ‘dirty’ and ‘clean’ areas to make sure that any asbestos fibres, dust and residues are not carried outside of the asbestos area. The areas that you will need are:

  1. dirty decontamination area

closest to the asbestos removal area for vacuuming and wiping contaminated surfaces and clothing, storage of contaminated footwear, disposal of PPE into labelled bags, and a showering area.

  1. clean decontamination area

for storage of clean respiratory protective equipment.

  1. clean changing area

for storage of clean respiratory protective equipment.

It is important that decontamination areas are physically separated to ensure that cross contamination is minimised.

It is also important that the airflow through these areas always moves towards the asbestos removal area and that all contaminated water is collected and disposed of as asbestos waste. You need to be very careful when moving labelled, sealed bags of contaminated clothing and wipes from the dirty area through any clean areas.

Types of decontamination

Decontamination can be done in two ways:

wet decontamination


wet decontamination (or ‘wet wiping’) involves using disposable rags to wipe contaminated surfaces and objects. If a bucket of water is being used, rags must not be re-wetted in the bucket as this would contaminate the water making it asbestos waste. All rags must then be disposed of as asbestos-contaminated waste.


dry decontamination


dry decontamination involves rolling/folding up contaminated sheeting, making sure it is securely sealed. It could also involve using an asbestos grade vacuum cleaner. This method should only be used if wet decontamination poses a risk due to electricity or slipping.

Personal decontamination

When decontaminating yourself after asbestos removal work, these are the steps you should follow:

  • Keep your respirator and PPE on until all work has been completed and you have finished cleaning the area.
  • Before any PPE or footwear is removed, it should be thoroughly vacuumed with an asbestos vacuum cleaner. Safety footwear should also be wiped with a wet cloth, and the cloth should then be disposed of as asbestos waste.
  • PPE and footwear should not be removed until all visible asbestos dust or residue is removed. PPE should be removed carefully and disposed of appropriately with other asbestos waste.
  • Before removing a respirator, you must thoroughly wash and pay careful attention to hands, fingernails and head. Remove the respirator last and proceed with careful washing of the face.

Decontamination of tools

When all asbestos removal work is complete, tools should be decontaminated by dismantling them (where appropriate) and either wiping them down with a damp cloth to remove all visible asbestos dust and residue, or cleaning them with an asbestos vacuum.

If you use a cloth, it then needs to be disposed of as asbestos waste.

Sometimes, it might be easier to completely dispose of tools as asbestos waste rather than decontaminate them. If you need to remove tools from the asbestos area for decontamination or move them to another asbestos area, ensure they are double-bagged and labelled appropriately.