In order to become an asbestos contractor in the United States, you must first be certified as a contractor. Once you have the appropriate insurance and certification to be considered a contractor, you must fill out a special application to become an asbestos contractor. The application usually requires proof of a worker's compensation insurance policy. Depending on the state, there may be additional requirements to become an asbestos contractor. Most states within the United States require asbestos contractors to be accredited in some way.
Additional requirements to become an accredited asbestos contractor are varied. Some states require applicants to take government-sponsored courses designed to teach safe methods of asbestos removal. Michigan, for example, requires all workers to be trained in asbestos removal in a course approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state of Michigan. Some states require certification from a state agency. Other states just require applicants to fill out forms certifying that they understand how to remove asbestos safely.
If a company wants to obtain asbestos certification, the requirements are similar. The company must demonstrate that all workers are or will become certified under the specific laws of the state. Many states, including Michigan and Louisiana for example, require one person to be appointed as the supervisor of asbestos removal projects. That person typically needs to be named on the application.
Small asbestos removal projects, such as removing under 10 feet (3 meters) of asbestos material in pipes, may not require a licensed asbestos removal contractor. The vast majority of large projects, however, require a certified asbestos professional. Removing asbestos ceilings and asbestos tiles, especially, can be extremely dangerous. In many states, it is illegal to attempt these projects unless you are a certified asbestos contractor.
In the United States, there is usually a fee associated with filing an application to become an asbestos contractor. Applications usually have to be renewed regularly, usually on an annual basis. Asbestos abatement professionals may have to take refresher courses each year when renewing their applications. The courses are designed to minimize the risk of asbestos exposure and emphasize safety, both for the contractor and the public in general.
Requirements in Europe vary. In the United Kingdom, for example, no special license is required to become an asbestos contractor. Asbestos contractors are simply required to obtain adequate training in the safe removal of asbestos. Adequate training involves learning about the dangers of asbestos exposure, including the risk of asbestosis and mesothelioma, and taking steps to prevent asbestos exposure.